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31 July 2018 | Comment | Article by Adrienne Donneky

Life after Love Island: the common law marriage myth


Throughout the summer, the nation has been gripped by the trials and tribulations of the Love Island islanders’ search for love, and last night saw Amber and Greg crowned as champions and share the £50,000 prize money.

The couple have lived together for less than a month – a short amount of time in the real world, but what must seem like an eternity when you are stuck in a villa with your partner for 24 hours a day.

What’s more, many of the Islanders can expect lucrative promotional deals upon their exit from the villa. The change in financial circumstances they will experience may bring into sharp focus the rights and obligations that the couples have towards each other.

Perhaps the couple will not marry, and have already agreed they will continue to cohabit. As the fastest growing family type in the UK, this choice would not be unusual.

You may have heard of the term ‘common law marriage’, and believe that by cohabiting as an unmarried couple they will have legal rights if they split up. However, there is no such thing as common law marriage in the UK. Under current law it is possible to live with someone for decades – even have children together – and then walk away without taking any responsibility for your former partner.

You would not be alone in believing in the common law marriage myth –over half of people surveyed in a 2017 cohabitation survey by Resolution would agree with you.

So, what should Amber and Greg do if they are in this situation? It is crucial that they are well informed of their rights and seek expert legal advice from a family lawyer to avoid further problems down the line. One option is a Cohabitation Agreement which can offer reassurance and clarity to help avoid future disputes. It sets out their legal rights and responsibilities while living together and what would happen in the event of their separation.

Find out more about our family team here, or get in contact.

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Author bio

Adrienne Donneky is Senior Associate and heads up the family team. Adrienne is a highly experienced solicitor having practised in the area of family law for over 20 years. She advises individuals on a wide range of family matters including divorce and disputes between parents in relation to their children.  Adrienne has particular expertise in cases concerning the resolution of financial issues on divorce and between unmarried couples on separation.
Adrienne Donneky

Adrienne Donneky

Senior Associate
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Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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