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No such thing as "Common Law Wife" even when you have a family together!

(73 Posts)
MollyMumOf4 Wed 18-Dec-13 21:42:43

I am new to mums net... So I am testing the waters...

Having finally completed a long journey to resolve the situation I shockingly found myself in, a few years ago, I am resolved to start campaigning. I would, at least, like to raise awareness of the holes in the archaic laws that determine the welfare of our children, ourselves and what accountability there is for unwed parents who chose to withdraw their support and fight their responsibilities. The dream would be to see a change in the Law in England to be more in line with that of Scotland and France.

I want to know what interest this issue can generate to help us change the system so we are not so dependent on CSA, Legal Aid (now withdrawn for unmarried parents) and ultimately the state benefits who mop up the financial responsibilities of unforthcoming parents.

Do you know someone who has had children and receives little or no support from their former partner? Have they lost hope?

With 6.5million couples in the UK choosing cohabitation over marriage, I suspect there is a large percentage of those, like I was, who are totally unaware of the dangers they may face.

Today, more children are born out of wedlock than within marital status. For most people, it is either impossible or not worth the litigation to try to change the situation. I was very lucky but I had seen 5 disappointing lawyers before my friend convinced me to try the last. I feel the weight of the masses of parents (mostly mothers) who are unable to attain any support from their ex-partners, let alone enough to lift them off, at least some of, the benefits they need to sustain family life for their children.

The media gives single parents on benefits a bad wrap. I had children with a multimillionaire, whom I loved and totally trusted, so to find myself homeless and destitute with two children (2 and 6 months old) was unbelievable. I was so grateful that the benefit system finally helped us, after a difficult initial introduction to their systems. After a whirlwind we have finally resolved our case to meet the needs of the children only but I think that is more than most people in my situation get. I hear a number of single parents say things like, "its not worth it" and "I want to prove I can do it alone".

I now want to make a difference to even a few other people who are ignorant of their true position. with the help and advice of my solicitor I will be initiating an undertaking to highlight these issues in the media but it is a long, arduous and scary undertaking if the other stories and support are not out there for us to connect with.

If it needs it, I am prepared to follow the charismatic and inspired lines of Fathers for Justice, who did so much for shared access. I have my superhero costumes at the ready. Are there people out there ready to support this cause? or do I have to dress up and visit the capital to help make a point many have tried to make before me.


EdithWeston Thu 19-Dec-13 09:55:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EdithWeston Thu 19-Dec-13 09:58:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 19-Dec-13 10:01:10

I don't support a change in the law.

If you want the protection that marriage brings, then get married. It is not rocket science.

If you are with a man who is happy to have children with you, but won't marry you, then that is your lookout.

I agree with Edith that some kind of public awareness campaign on this issue would be good, because people are stupid and make all kinds of assumptions based on God knows what. Laws in other countries, novels, films?

MollyMumOf4 Tue 07-Jan-14 21:03:02

It is the awareness that drives me to do this in the first place. How many average people do you know who consult solicitors before engaging in cohabitation or children? Not many I know can afford it.

Not only was I unaware but my mother had mistakenly brought us up believing in the term common law wife. I had no reason too look into it or question anything about it. I trusted the promises and honour of the man I fell in love with and had children with.

When he (the wealthy powerful party) consulted his accountants and legal firm prior to our commitment (something I realised later) he failed to even mention to me what a legally unsafe situation I (his girlfriend and mother to be of his children) was entering into. I realise now he saw me coming.

"FAMILY PLANNING" should be taught and examples of situations highlighted in SCHOOLS. They teach you the mechanics of sex but not the long term implications and possible consequences.
I didn't make a choice, I was ignorant and would like to change that for future parents.

Had he not treated us so appallingly, I would probably have just been a quiet statistic but having to argue with a multimillionaire about buying his child a pair of school shoes begs belief.

Family courts are not doing a good enough job and the people who lie, manipulate and abuse the system should be punished far more. They must be deterred from the current trend of using the system to punish and hurt people. The system needs got to grow up and become more current and relevant.

PortofinoRevisited Tue 07-Jan-14 21:05:47

Surely you have to live in a box to not be aware that there is no such thing as a "common law wife"?

PortofinoRevisited Tue 07-Jan-14 21:06:37

Surely if he is a multi millionaire the CSA should get a look in?

JeanSeberg Tue 07-Jan-14 21:06:54

Can I ask what you thought you had if the concept of common law wife existed?

stargirl1701 Tue 07-Jan-14 21:08:37

No. I would open up CP to everyone but that's it.

DontmindifIdo Tue 07-Jan-14 21:14:10

Molly - I think you are unusual in that you didn't understand there was a difference legally to being married or not. I understand that some people on here would be confused to the finer details - often because they don't own anything enough to hit the inhertiance tax threashold, their DP doesn't earn enough to pay more than the CSA minimums, and only earn enough to pay the bills, so there'd be no money saved to split anyway. However, most do understand that when there's big amounts of money involved, you don't get any of it unless you are actually married.

There might well be an argument for young people to be taught that marriage is a legal contract, not a big party.

I'm sorry you were hurt, but did you really not think that there's a diference between being married and not? What did you think marriage was ?

VworpVworp Tue 07-Jan-14 21:15:01

hmm Family planning is taught in schools.

Do you have 2 children or 4 Molly?

It's 'rap' not 'wrap'.

You think F4J are charismatic and inspiring? hmm Takes all sorts I suppose.

I do not support a change in the law- marriage is the legal frame in which children's needs are safeguarded. If you want to have children, and protect their futures, get married. If you're intending to stay with your partner for the lives of the children, I don't see how being married is an impediment.

VworpVworp Tue 07-Jan-14 21:17:25

Oh- x-post, but I agree with starlight that CP should be available to all, as it is in France, so those that object to 'marriage' may legally protect their family.

Basketofchocolate Tue 07-Jan-14 21:17:57

It is common knowledge it doesn't exist.

There's no need to consult a solicitor to find out it's not the case in the same way you don't consult a solicitor to find out if it's ok to go over the speed limit.

Why did you think people get married?

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Tue 07-Jan-14 21:24:02

I would support a campaign to raise awareness- I too thought there was something called 'common law wife' - I don't know why (grew up in the 70s?) I did think marriage was just a piece of paper. I'm not usually such a thicky but this was a grey area to me.

onetiredmummy Tue 07-Jan-14 21:25:01

Is common law wife the belief that if you have lived together unmarried for a specified period of time, both parties have the same legal rights as a married couple?

I can't think of anyone who believes this no

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Tue 07-Jan-14 21:27:12

I've seen lots of women come across it on the relationship boards. In real life, I've seen it twice- both devastating.

CoteDAzur Tue 07-Jan-14 21:28:02

Did you really need to be told that living together does not provide the same protection in the event of separation as marriage? shock

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Tue 07-Jan-14 21:31:40

I wonder why the term common law wife came about - what was it in response too?

I suppose I used to be quite anti-marriage, the protection element didn't occur to me.

ZenNudist Tue 07-Jan-14 21:37:02

It sounds like you were a combination of stupid & unlucky. Stupid to think that you had any legal rights over your ex-p's wealth without marriage or other legal agreement. Unlucky to have dc with a man who has the means but not the inclination to support his dc.

I thought CSA would have been able to get some support for you.

When you had dc did you not discuss long term future and how the dc would be provided for?

Can't see what change in law you propose that would be practical or desirable.

Given we have a Tory government you'd think Gove would already have it on the agenda to promote the benefits of marriage in schools !

Basketofchocolate Tue 07-Jan-14 21:38:25

If you lived with a housemate for 12 years, splitting the bills, cooking for each other, etc. you wouldn't expect to share their belongings when they moved out. Living together is just living together, it in no way implies a commitment recognised by the law.

I think your Mum may have misled you, but then I won't campaign for a change in the law because santa doesn't really exist.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 07-Jan-14 21:50:45

There used to be the concept, in Scots law, of "marriage by habit and repute"; if you lived together, had dc together, were known by the same name (a bigger deal in the past than now) ie if all your friends and neighbours thought you were married but you hadn't actually tied the knot... I knew one such couple, but only found out the truth when they announced they'd married that morning!

Blu Tue 07-Jan-14 21:54:32

I'm not exactly sure what your manifesto is.

To raise awareness that there is no such thing as common law wife? Fair enough, but actually on MN I have never seen anyone who thinks there is. I have seen plenty of co habiting women who have found themselves having given up a career to be a sahm and no stake in the family home due to being naive and trusting as you were, or women not protecting themselves , and hordes of savvy MN ers give accurate advice every time. I think it very important that women - and other kinds of parent - look after their interests if roles in the family are divided to ensure that each is given equal value in that assets are shared and owned equally.

I certain would not support a law which established common law marriage .

And I challenge the assumption that a woman is inevitably disadvantaged by co habitation. I earn more than DP, as tennants in common in ownership of our house I own a bigger share of our house , and we have shared all parenting duties (time off work etc, all household and domestic and family responsibilities) 50 / 50.

I am very sorry you were betrayed by a selfish unkind man, but your OP makes you sounds very last century.

Bluestocking Tue 07-Jan-14 22:02:32

Why didn't you and your multimillionaire get married?

TheGirlFromIpanema Tue 07-Jan-14 22:09:47

I think a campaign to make it more socially unacceptable to just walk out on offspring without so much as a backward glance might possibly help. Or even just a less toothless/more robust organisation than the CSA for making sure that absent parents are held financially responsible.

Not sure either is anything to do with an archaic quasi-religious contract though. I would support that civil partnerships be available to all.

ArgyMargy Tue 07-Jan-14 22:15:17

Like Blu, I'm not really sure what you are trying to change? Are you trying to increase awareness of the benefits of marriage?

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