Case Law Update: Common law wife – still a legal myth?

Dispute Resolution

Family - 1 minute read

A judge in the Central London County Court has ruled that a man’s share of a property that would otherwise automatically pass to his estranged wife on his death, would be retained by his partner of 18 years.Ā 

The property was held as tenants in common, meaning that his share did not pass to his partner (who owned the other share) but formed part of his estate.Ā 

The ruling, which it is is anticipated may be appealed, is surprising as it appears to support the long-held legal myth of the ‘common law wife’ .Ā 

Whatever the outcome, the case underlines the importance of making a will (and reviewing this periodically) and getting good advice about how property is to be held.

Watch this space..Ā 

The 'fair and reasonable resultĀ”, the judge concluded, was that she should 'retain an absolute interestĀ” in the house where she and Martin had lived as husband and wife in a 'loving and committedĀ” relationship.