There are a lot of advantages to living in the United Kingdom – the National Health Service (what's left of it), the best cup of tea in the world and the comfort of always knowing that England will lose the World Cup. However, common law marriage is not one of the advantages – which might even be news to the English.
An American Import
It's thought that the idea of a common law marriage having the same rights and insurance coverage as for Traditionally married couples came from America. There are certain states in the US (not all of them) where common law marriage couples can get many of the same privileges as traditionally married couples.
After what many people think, you can not just live with someone for seven or ten or twenty years and have that "count" as a common law marriage. Depending on the state you live in, you need to also jump through a lot more hoops before you can get even a fraction of the privileges of traditionally married married couples. These hoops can be from just filing joint tax returns to "having the intent to marry."
What About In UK History?
The UK has had a long history of unconventional marriages, including common law marriages. There used to be such things as "greenwood marriages", (a sort of trial marriage that often produced children) where you lived for a year and a day with your partner, and then decided whether to call the whole thing off. This was considered a Pagan tradition having to do with fertility rituals around what is now known as May Day (Beltane).
However, times and the law change. Our ancestors did not have such things as health insurance policies that depend on whether or not you were legally married. They also did not have to worry about the strict immigration laws of most countries today, including both the USA and the UK. A legal marriage requires a lot of paperwork and at least a ceremony at the local Registrar.
So, whatever someone tells you (even if they have lived in England all of their lives), there is no such thing as common law marriage in the UK. This writer is especially making an important emphasis on this, because she was once tricked into a relationship because she was told by her "husband" that she could be a UK citizen after the time of a common law marriage had passed.
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