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Anne Barlow, Carole Burgoyne and Janet Smithson, University of Exeter. We have heard much about the common law marriage myth in the context of cohabitation law reform. But what about trying to dispel the myth to make people aware of the different legal treatment of married and cohabiting couples so that their lifestyle choice becomes an informed one? Following this school of thought and responding to research confirming the extent of the myth among cohabitants who often claimed their false knowledge from the media" and "official forms" (Barlow et al, Cohabitation, Marriage and the Law (Hart, 2005)), a public information campaign funded by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) was set up by Advicenow in 2004. Their "Living Together Campaign" (LTC) is an information website aimed at advising cohabitants and providing downloadable agreements see www.advicenow.org.uk/livingtogether. Findings from earlier studies (see eg Barlow et al, 2005, Arthur et al, Settling up (NatCen, 2002)) indicated that information alone was not enough to prompt many cohabitants into taking appropriate legal action. For various reasons, including the cost of legal advice, even legally aware cohabitants rarely took appropriate legal steps. But would they do so if advice was combined with user-friendly templates for agreements? See February  Fam Law for the full article.
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