Every week, we answer some of the most commonly asked family law questions we hear from our clients.  This week: common law husbands and wives.

I’ve been living with my partner for several years now – is he my common law husband?

This is probably the biggest misconception we come across when it comes to family law. The fact is that in England and Wales, there is no such thing as a “common law husband” or “common law wife”. Forget the boxes you tick on the insurance forms, or things you might hear in the media – there is no such thing.

To make it entirely clear, if you are not married to the person you are living with, then in the eyes of the law you are cohabitees. This is the case no matter how long you have lived together, or how committed you are to each other, or even how many children or grandchildren you have.

What happens to the house if we split up?

If you are not married, and have never been engaged, then your entitlement to the property you live in will depend on how the property is held in law, and whether or not you have made any significant contribution to the property.

The black and white version is that you either own your house or you don’t. Real life is rarely black and white and there are of course several shades of grey, because each individual case will be different. There is unfortunately no “one size fits all” answer that will be right for everyone.

We can explain all this in more detail – if you are unsure about how you legally hold your property, and you would like to get some advice, then please give us a call on (029) 2034 2233, or drop us a line by e-mail at enquiries@wendyhopkins.co.uk, and we can see if we can help you.

Published 17/02/19