Calls for cohabitation laws to be updated

Martin Astle, Director and Solicitor in Astle Paterson’s Family department and Wills & Probate department discusses recent calls for cohabitation laws to be updated following a woman’s fight to keep her home when her partner died.

Mr Astle explained “Joy Williams and her partner, Norman Martin bought a home together where they lived for 18 years.  Whilst they were in a long term relationship, they never married.

Unfortunately, Mr Martin did not make a Will and when he died in 2012 his share of the home passed to his estranged wife from whom Mr Martin had never been divorced – rather than to Joy.

With her home under threat and with Norman’s estranged wife’s claiming a half share in the house, Joy was forced to issue Court proceedings against Norman’s estate at Court.

The case was contested by Norman’s estranged wife.   At Trial the Judge ruled in favour of Joy, and Ordered Mrs Martin to pay Joy’s legal costs associated with the Court Proceedings.

Whilst Joy was ultimately successful in her claim, Joy has described the situation as “traumatic”.”

Mr Astle concluded “Following this case there have been calls for reform of the law relating to cohabiting couples.

Many couples who live together believe that they have protected rights as “common law husband and wife” but this is not the case – “common law marriage” is simply a myth.

Joy was fortunate that the Judge in her case ruled she should receive Norman’s interest in their home, however, this decision does not guarantee somebody in similar circumstances will obtain the same result in the future.

The only way to truly protect your interests, and those of your partner, if you live together but are not married is to enter into a co-habitation agreement setting out the financial terms of you living together and to keep your Will up to date.”

Should you require advice in relation to the preparation of a co-habitation agreement or the preparation of a Will to protect  your partner’s and your interests for the future, please contact Mr Astle’s secretary, Lynda on 01283 531366 or by way of email to  

Back to News

More News from Martin

New rules for Notarising commercial documents for the UAE (United Arab Emirates)

Table of Contents What’s changed?How much does it cost to notarise commercial documents for the UAE?What is the process of ...

Read More
Divorce Advice – Should I defend against divorce proceedings?

This article is part of Astle Paterson’s Divorce Advice series. For more guides like this, see our latest news and ...

Read More
How to obtain a Divorce

Table of Contents Divorce PetitionAcknowledgement of ServiceStatementDecree nisiDecree absolute If you have come to the conclusion that your marriage is ...

Read More
What’s the difference between a Solicitor, Lawyer and Barrister?

Martin Astle, Solicitor and Director at Astle Paterson seeks to explain the difference between a Solicitor, Lawyer and a Barrister. ...

Read More
When is a Notary required?

Martin Astle, Solicitor and Notary at Astle Paterson discusses how a Notary can assist you or your business. Martin said, ...

Read More
Brazil, Morocco and Chile join the Hague Apostille Convention

Martin Astle, Notary at Astle Paterson confirmed “Brazil, Morocco and Chile have now joined the Hague Apostille Convention, meaning that ...

Read More
Connect with Astle Paterson


Book an Appointment
Book an appointment
Burton on Trent Uttoxeter
Astle Paterson Accreditations

Business & Commercial   •   Conveyancing   •   Family   •   Litigation   •   Wills, Inheritance Tax & Probate   •   Employment