Half of the Public still Believe the Common Law Marriage Fallacy

Nearly half of people in England and Wales still mistakenly believe that if unmarried couples live together, they have a common law marriage, and have the same rights as married couples.

These newly released findings from the British Social Attitudes Survey, carried out by The National Centre for Social Research, show that 46 per cent of the public think that cohabiting couples form a common law marriage. The report also showed that people are more likely to believe in common law marriage when children were involved in the relationship.

The concern is that this mistaken belief can result in financial hardship for the more vulnerable party in the event of separation or if a partner passes away. Resolution continues to call for a change in the law so that government policy better reflects England and Wales’ changing attitude to marriage.

Cohabiting couples now account for the fastest growing type of household in England and Wales. In addition, the number of opposite sex cohabiting couple families with dependent children has more than doubled in the last decade.

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