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Ask the Expert: The biggest misconception over common law spouses

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Archant

My partner and I have been living together for over 20 years but have decided to separate. 
The house is in his name (I moved in with him) and he also has a pension scheme from his work and a savings account in his name. 
As his common law wife, how much am I entitled to from everything? 
I have a small pension which I started a few years ago with my job but don’t have any savings. Our son is aged 18 now and doesn’t live at home any more.

Unless married, you are not entitled to any of your ex-partner's assets. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.Unless married, you are not entitled to any of your ex-partner's assets. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Response from Carl Lamb of Almary Green

This is a misconception we encounter all too frequently: there is no such thing as a common law husband or wife.

However long you have lived with your partner, you have no rights to his assets when you separate.

Basically, what you own, you keep and what he owns, he keeps.

Even if you have contributed to the mortgage, if your home is owned in his name, he gets to keep it.

The same is true of his pension – as a cohabiting partner, you have no rights over it.

If your son had still been a dependant and continued to live with you, then you would perhaps have been entitled to some support from your partner for his upkeep, but as he is now an adult and living elsewhere, you are not likely to be entitled to any kind of maintenance.

• Do you have a question you would like to ask our expert? Email mark.shields@archant.co.uk, with the subject clearly marked as Ask the Expert, or write to Ask the Expert, Business desk, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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