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4 in 5 price comparison sites give ‘mythical relationship’ option – putting people at huge financial risk

We carried out some analysis that has revealed that 4 out of the 5 largest price comparison websites[i] reference a common law spouse – perpetuating the myth that such a relationship status exists and putting people at huge financial risk.

MoneySuperMarket, Go.Compare, Compare the Market and Quote Zone – which have a combined estimated 22 million visits each month – allow users to select that they are in a “common law” relationship, despite no such status being recognised in law.

Our expert family solicitor Karen Jeary has warned that the incorrect language used on price comparison websites adds to the distress caused to those believing they were protected by a “mythical relationship status”.

Karen said: “Throughout my career, I have spoken to numerous unmarried people following the breakdown of their cohabitating relationship who incorrectly believed their positions were similar to married couples and could make similar claims on the breakdown of their relationship.

“However, the current law that applies to cohabitees means it is possible in certain circumstances to live with someone, have children with them and for there to be no ongoing financial responsibility for the former partner – only the children.

“For example, they may have contributed to mortgage payments on a property they did not legally own believing it guaranteed them an interest. Sometimes, they may have invested capital in a property that was in their partner’s sole name. While we may be able to establish that they have a beneficial interest in the property, doing so has an emotional and financial impact.

“In other situations, people have believed they are entitled to a form of maintenance for themselves because they are a ‘common law spouse’ with the reality being the only support will be for any children from that relationship.

“There is a real risk people will take major financial decisions based on their belief in an entirely mythical status and, in doing so, expose themselves to significant amounts of financial insecurity and even litigation. So long as insurance websites and companies perpetuate the myth, people will keep on believing it.

“Family lawyers can – and do – regularly speak up to try and make the position clear, but people interact with price comparison sites a lot more frequently than they do solicitors so it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince people when they are so regularly told the status exists.”

According to the latest government figures, there are currently 3.6 million unmarried couples living together in the UK – an increase of 23% in the past decade. Further research [ii] also revealed that almost half of people (47%) who are looking to buy a house incorrectly believe a status of common law spouse exists, with a further 20% of the difference in rights between married and unmarried couples.

Karen added: “Getting married isn’t for everyone and cohabiting can provide a financially practical option for many couples, especially as we contend with the cost-of-living crisis. However, it is vital that legal protection is put in place in case a relationship fails.

“A cohabitation agreement, which sets out what will happen to joint and separate assets in the event of a break-up, should be the top priority for all unmarried couples planning to move in together. It is especially important to have this agreement in place if the house is in one party’s name only or if children are involved, as protecting your wealth will provide security and help safeguard their future.

“Although this may be an uncomfortable thought, it is important to consider all eventualities and arrange legal protection if something was to go wrong. It is a bit like having insurance – you hope you don’t have to use it, but it is there should the worst happen.

“Ideally, the law should reflect modern life and family lawyers have long pressed the government to introduce some level of rights for cohabiting couples. Sadly, there’s no sign of that happening. Until it does, cohabiting couples need to remember there’s no such thing as a common law spouse and protect themselves accordingly.”


[i] Mayo Wynne Baxter analysed the available relationship options across the five largest price comparison websites in the UK: MoneySupermarket, GoCompare, Compare the Market, Quote Zone and

MoneySupermarket, GoCompare, Compare the Market and Quote Zone all referenced “common law”.


Insurance price comparison website

How cohabiting is referenced


Common law


Common law/living with partner

Living with partner

Compare the Market

Common law-partnered/cohabiting

Quote Zone

Common law


[ii] Mayo Wynne Baxter commissioned Censuswide to survey 504 people who were looking to buy their first or second home within the next 12 months.