Will the UK’s Ruling on Cohabitation Rights Set a Precedent for Other Countries?

by Admin on November 11, 2011

 This week, Britain’s Supreme Court made a landmark ruling on a court case between a British couple who cohabitated over a long period of time, but never officially married. The two had  separated 20 years ago after purchasing a home and having two children together, and were fighting over each other’s rights to the home they had mutually purchased. British courts ruled that though both individuals’ names were on the house deed, the woman should receive 90% percent of the home’s value, as she had remained in the home and paid all of the mortgage payments in the 20 years since the break-up of the relationship.


The ruling is notable in that it has the potential to afford cohabitating couples with rights that resemble those of married couples – cohabitating couples may now potentially recieve judicial recognition of the special nature of a cohabitation relationship (often referred to as a common-law marriage). In essence, the ruling gives the relationships of cohabitating couples legitimacy that they have never had before.

 But can other countries, specifically Thailand, expect similar rights to be given to couples who choose to cohabitate rather than be married? According to Thailand Divorce Lawyers , the general answer is  “no”. Couples in Thailand who are unmarried are not afforded any rights or protections under Thai law; Thailandlaw also makes no provisions for the concept of “common law marriage”, where a relationship is recognized with certain jurisdictions as marriage if it fulfills certain legal specifications – cohabitating for a certain period of time, for example.

In the United States, the recognition of “common law marriage” varies depending on the particular state involved. The issue can become quite difficult when parties migrate between states. However, there is also a growing trend in the USA to recognize  cohabitation rights of gay partners.


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