Rebecca Probert: Common-law marriage: myths and misunderstandings

16 MAY 2008

Rebecca Probert is a Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Warwick.

This article investigates the source of the myth that prior to 1753 cohabiting couples would have been protected by a common-law marriage. It shows that neither the term nor the concept existed at the time and traces modern misunderstandings to the early nineteenth century. It goes on to suggest that the widespread but mistaken belief among modern cohabitants in the existence of common-law marriage must also be of recent origin.

For the full article see Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 20, No 1, 2008.

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