More couples than ever before are choosing to live together without marrying. A common misconception still exists that “common law marriage” provides some legal protection. However, as the law currently stands, partners do not have any automatic rights to the property or assets of their partner if they go their separate ways.

If you share a family home, or you have children together, or you wish to leave property or assets to your partner, you should consider taking at least one of the following actions:

  • Enter into a legally binding cohabitation agreement with your partner
  • Make a will, which includes provision for the survivor, and if there are dependent children, appoint a guardian
  • Enter into a declaration of trust setting out the parties’ respective interests in the jointly held property
  • Nominate each other as beneficiaries under insurance policies and pensions
  • Realise that living together does not in itself give rise to legal rights