In this article, we’ll take a closer look at exactly what is a spouse and find out why being a spouse – or not – could make a real difference to your break-up.
‘Spouse’ is a word used to describe a husband or a wife. Whereas the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ are used to describe the male and female partner in a marriage respectively, ‘spouse’ can be used to describe both sexes.
When answering the question ‘what is a spouse’, it’s important to note that the word ‘spouse’ can only ever be used when a couple are married.
If you are cohabiting with someone you are in a relationship with but are not married to, they could be referred to as your partner – but not your spouse.
A partner could also be a boyfriend or girlfriend you are in a relationship with, but not living with.
So what is a spouse? Your spouse can only be someone to whom you are married.
A girlfriend cannot be a spouse because a girlfriend is someone that you are not married to. The same goes for a boyfriend.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a common-law husband or wife.
In England and Wales, no matter how long you cohabit with an unmarried partner, you will not receive the same legal rights as a married couple. And you will not become spouses unless you marry.
If your relationship with your spouse breaks down, there are specific laws governing how to get a divorce and how to deal with your financial settlement.
If you and your unmarried partner break up, there are no specific laws which deal with how your assets should be divided, should there be a dispute. In this instance, various other, often highly-complex areas of law could come into play, making the outcome harder to predict.
What is a spouse? This word can only be used for people who are married. Even if you’ve been in a long-term relationship with your partner, if you’re not married, they cannot be referred to as a spouse. And more importantly, they will not become your spouse unless you get married.
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