Common Law Wife – A Common Mistake

There is an interesting article in The Telegraph that I thought I'd share with you.  A 'lifestyle guru' to celebrities is being sued by his ex partner who claimed to be his 'common law wife' for a payout following the breakdown of their relationship.

Their relationship lasted 15 years and they had a son together.  The guru Mr Brown owned the home they shared in his sole name and he also had a collection of Jaguar cars and earned royalties from two of his books.  They never married but Ms Brown his ex partner claims to be his 'common law wife'.  She said Mr Brown told her that she need not worry as she was protected as a common law wife and that they both owned 50 per cent of the property and other assets they went on to purchase.  Mr Brown claims he never referred to Ms Brown as his common law wife and nor did he give her any assurances that she would have an interest in his home or assets.

The crucial point here is that they were never married and there is no such thing in law as a 'common law' spouse.  Unfortunately so many people believe their long term partners can become 'common law' spouses and they will acquire the same rights and entitlements as married couples.  This is not the case and Ms Brown herself has learned too late that she does not have the same rights as a wife and is now suing for what she feels is hers "legally and morally".

If they had married Ms Brown would have an entitlement to the matrimonial assets such as the house and the cars and to Mr Browns income.  Another option Ms Brown could have pursued much earlier in the relationship is entering into a Living Together Agreement which sets out the ownership of property and how future assets can be divided should the relationship (unmarried) breakdown.

If you are unmarried and cohabiting and want advice on Living Together Agreements or your possible claims against the home you share with your partner please contact Amanda Weaver by email amandaweaver@newleafsolicitors or by phone 01788 555042.