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Family Law Blog

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Commonlaw myth is still not common knowledge

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It’s funny how certain things, if talked about enough, become accepted as the truth. Collective wisdom dictates that something must be true because “everyone” says so. Such myths need not have any basis in reality and yet large swathes of the population believe them to be so.

Most are innocuous enough. “If cows are lying down, it is going to rain.” I am not sure that many bovines have weather predicting abilities in reality.  “White wine gets red wine stains out of carpets.” In my experience, it is simply more liquid diluting the stain so it appears to be helping when in actually fact, there is no magical reaction happening that will leave the carpet stain free.

Then there are other statements that people take as being correct and can base life-changing decisions on. Like the concept of “commonlaw” husband or wife. I thought this was one of those myths that was widely now known to be just that – a myth. But a survey on our divorce myths site suggests this is not so. 40% of people (according to our survey) still think that if a couple have been together for six months, they automatically have the same rights as legally married couples. This is simply not true. Can you please help me get the message out there?

We’ve set up a website on dispelling myths surrounding divorce to try and ensure people can make properly informed decision. We are now inviting people to add their own queries for our experts to answer so we can build up a comprehensive database of common questions and misconceptions relating to divorce.

We’ve produced a book of 101 divorce myths, again to try and get the messages out there and reach a different audience.

I’m not sure what more we can do, short of hiring billboards or TV slots, to make the message clearer. I think we need help. If everyone spreads the word when the situation presents itself,  passing on the knowledge that commonlaw husbands and wives do not have the same rights as married couples, it could be that we can finally see off this myth once and for all. Can you help? Should we be doing more?


Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor 

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