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Common Law Spouse

Couples living together is the new normal with marriage on the decline, but both financial and legal protections have yet to catch up.

It’s a popular misconception that once a couple have lived together for some time, they acquire the status of a ‘common law spouse’ and with this automatic financial protection if they separate, but this is wrong. There are some legal rights for couples facing this situation, but they are extremely restrictive and based solely on the law of property and trusts, rather than any element of fairness/discretion, as would apply on a divorce or where children are involved.

One partner can be placed in a precarious position if the couple have been living in a home, where the legal title or tenancy is only in one partner’s name as they would not have an automatic right to continue living at the property if their partner asked them to leave. Similarly, a partner would be unable to claim a share of any savings or assets held in their partner’s sole name which they have acquired out of their own money. This will include any pension assets the other party may have acquired.

For many separated couples, this can lead to one person facing a poor financial future, possible homelessness, a lack of pension and no income and on the death of a partner, the survivor has no legal right to inherit their partner’s property, or assets unless the deceased left a Will making provision for them.

Make sure you don’t fall prey to the “common law spouse” myth by calling us on: Tel: +44 7831 379562 (UK) or +34 622 374 738 (Spain), or email me at

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