The Myth of the Common Law Marriage

When Ed Miliband was elected leader of the Labour Party, much was made by the media of his marital status. He and his partner Justine Thornton had been together six years and had two young children. But has the rising star of the Labour party made a bad policy decision?

Whilst there may be a number of advantages to not walking down the aisle (the cost of the wedding for one), when couples separate, there are limited legal remedies. For example, whilst Mr Miliband will probably not have to contemplate financial hardship if he did separate from his partner, it is a major problem for many couples. Furthermore, without his name on the child's birth certificate, Mr. Miliband has no parental responsibility in the eyes of the law.

If you are living with someone and not married, you might think that you have similar rights to those of married couples if the relationship breaks down. You would be wrong. And whilst it has been proposed to give partners divorce style rights, the new Coalition government appear to be backing the institution of marriage and changes are unlikely to come into force in the near future.

Co-habiting couples are strongly advised to examine their position by either entering an agreement or make a Will to ensure that their assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes. Practical and clear legal advice at the start of a relationship can provide peace of mind - and should the unthinkable happen - protection in law.

It's never too early to consult a solicitor.   For further information regarding this article please contact Gemma Hughes on 01743 285888 or email

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