Common Law Husband & Wife – Legal Misnomers and Common Misconceptions

Many people think that after living with their partner for a few years that they become “common law husband and wife” and that they have the same rights as married couples. However this is not the case and couples who cohabit do not have the same rights as married couples or civil partners.

In essence there is no such thing as “common law marriage”. There are some 4 million couples living together in England and Wales.  However these couples and their children have significantly fewer rights and responsibilities than those couples who are married or who have formed a civil partnership.

If you are cohabiting with your partner then there are some steps which you can take to protect both yourself and your partner which may minimise the legal and financial problems with may arise if you decide to separate or if one of you dies.

Your first port of call should be to seek advice from an experienced Family Law Practitioner. An experienced Family Law Practitioner will be able to provide you with the best advice on how to protect you, your partner and your family. When looking for an appropriately trained and experienced Family Law Practitioner it is recommended that you enquire as to whether or not that Practitioner is a member of the Law Society Family Law Panel or alternatively a member of Resolution. At Keoghs, Nicholls Lindsell & Harris Solicitors we have Family Law Practitioners who are members of both the Law Society Family Law Panel and Resolution and who have a combined experience of family law of nearly 40 years.

Visitation Rights and Custody

Very often parents make reference to “visitation rights” in respect of their children.  However the correct terminology is in fact “contact”.

Parents will often use the term “custody” when referring to which parent a child should live.   Again the correct terminology in this case would be “residence”.

When parents separate there will inevitably be a number of issues which need to be resolved in relation to any dependent children.  Such issues require careful consideration and in many cases legal intervention. It is vitally important that any parent seeking advice in relation to children matters should consult an experienced Family Law Practitioner..

In addition to providing expert legal advice in relation to children matters, our experienced Family Law Practitioners at Keoghs and Nicholls Lindsell & Harris can refer a client on to other organisations who may be able to assist in resolving issues relating to children, for example mediation and counselling services.

If you are going through a relationship breakdown or are experiencing unresolved issues relating to your children then Keoghs, Nicholls Lindsell & Harris offer an initial 20 minutes “without obligation” meeting. We undertake Publicly Funded work (previously known as “Legal Aid”).   We can therefore assess whether or not you might be eligible for Public Funding during the first meeting and also provide some initial advice. If you do wish to take advantage of this service then please feel free to contact either Helen Thompson at the firm’s Hazel Grove office on telephone 0161 456 8125 or Laura Harrison at the firm’s Altrincham office on telephone 0161 928 9321 to arrange an appointment.

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