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Panorama
Property rights
The concept of Common Law Marriage became extinct around 250 years ago by the Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753.

So contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as 'common law marriage' and couples who live together in the belief that they have got some legal rights is wrong.

In fact, if a couple were to split, fairness is not the priority of the law. The problem would be settled like a dispute between strangers.

This means that the principal question would mean who owns the property. And if the mortgage and the deeds were solely in one partners name - the other partner would be entitled to nothing.

Left with nothing

You would only be entitled to something if you could prove that you had been contributing to the mortgage or the maintenance of the property.

This case was vividly demonstrated in the Burns vs Burns case in 1984, when Valerie Burns ended up living in her car after being with her partner for two decades.

Valerie was left with nothing, despite bearing her partner two children and housekeeping.

Several organisations - like the Law Society - have called for increased legal protection in financial and property matters for co-habiting couples.

There now seems to be a consensus that it is wrong for us to expect the law to prop up the virtues of marriage simply by denying rights to those who choose or are not able to (in the case of single sex couples) get married.

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 VOTE RESULTS
Would giving unmarried couples equal legal rights undermine marriage?

Yes
 39.93% 

No
 60.07% 

2775 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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