Common Law Marriage : British Social Attitudes

Despite our best efforts (Cohabitation Rights) it seems that the message is still not getting through regarding common law relationships.

In the latest survey on the subject, undertaken by The National Centre for Social Research, nearly half (46%) of the adult population questioned thought that cohabiting partners get similar rights to married couples under a common law marriage. This contrasts with only 41% of respondents who rightly said that when cohabiting, there is no such thing as ‘common law marriage’. The 41% must have read our post, but they are still in a substantial minority.


Matters worsen when children are taken into account. It appears that there is a common misconception that having children affords a couple more (mythical) rights. The survey reports that when children come into the equation 55% of households with children think that common law marriage exists, whereas only 41% of households without any children think so.

Same old, same old

The statistics have apparently remained unchanged since 2005, when the figures were 47% despite a significant increase in the number of cohabiting couples in the last 14 years. Why is the message not getting through to those couples who choose to live together but without gaining the rights of marriage or civil partnership?

Answers on a postcard please.

The full press release and report can be found here.


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