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Home > News > Married or just Cohabiting? New Case Forces Courts to Recognise Long-Term Relationships

Married or just Cohabiting? New Case Forces Courts to Recognise Long-Term Relationships

29 November 2017 | Heledd Wyn

An unmarried woman has won her legal fight to gain better rights for those in long-term relationships who are unmarried. After losing her partner – John Bulloch – owing to medical negligence, had Jakki Smith been married, she would have been due £12,980 but was declared not entitled to it as they were unmarried at the date of John’s death.

The courts have recently decided in Jakki’s favour, with her lawyer stating that the ruling was ‘a historic decision’. However, there has been no change in the law itself, and it it is important that people understand that those who are in long-term ‘common-law’ marriages who are not protected by law – something that we have highlighted before.

These two articles highlight the important distinction between being married and not being married. A marriage (or civil partnership) is a legally binding contract which is not replicated by simply choosing to live together, no matter how ‘committed’ a relationship this is.

We will keep a close eye on emerging cases to track how the law is applied in these complicated cases. It is interesting however that there is recognition of long term relationships in the case of bereavement damages as this may indicate a shift in perception. It is important to remember that there is a difference between a wedding and getting married!

Do you want some expert insight into your unique situation? Looking for a way to formalise your finances and unsure how to proceed? Our experienced solicitors are happy to discuss this with you, so just get in touch to discover how we can help.


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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