Love Island: “Coupling up” and the common law marriage myth

After weeks of being “coupled up”, life after Love Island often leads to many of the show’s contestants quickly moving in together and beginning to cohabit. Cohabitation is becoming an increasingly popular option for many couples.

There is a wide belief that cohabitees are entitled to the same rights, responsibilities, and legal protection as married couples. This belief is known as the ‘common law marriage myth’.  The emphasis being on the word myth, as this belief is simply untrue. Due to this inaccurate belief, many unmarried couples fail to enter into a cohabitation agreement and are often in a complex and expensive legal entanglements upon separation.

Separations are emotional regardless of the parties’ marital status; there are often difficult decisions that the separating couple need to decide upon. The common law marriage myth is unhelpful in situations whereby one party believes and relies upon the non-existent principle. Whilst married couples who are separating have an automatic degree of legal protection; parties who are not married have no automatic financial rights upon separation. Often, this results in one party being financially disadvantaged post-separation.

One way in which unmarried couples can provide themselves with legal protection is by entering into a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement can protect the parties in the event that they were to separate.  Cohabitation agreements make provisions to include clarity on both parties’ rights, obligations, and entitlements should they separate in the future. These agreements are considered to be enforceable and are used as a legal mechanism to provide protection and reassurance to the parties. They are legally persuasive insofar as they clearly set out the parties’ intentions for the regulation of their financial and living arrangements, both during cohabitation and if cohabitation comes to an end.

Lux has extensive experience in drafting and negotiating cohabitation agreements. If you are contemplating entering a cohabitation agreement and require advice on the same, please do not hesitate to contact the office on 02920 197 203 to arrange an initial consultation. Our team of highly experienced solicitors can also provide advice to unmarried clients who are separating with or without a cohabitation agreement in place. If you should require any advice on the issues raised above, please contact our office in order to arrange an initial consultation with one of our experienced and specialist solicitors.