The “common law wife” myth rears head again in celebrity case

19 Jun 2012

New age ‘guru’ to the rich and famous, Simon Brown is being sued by the mother of his child in a bid to secure a ‘common law wife’ divorce payment.

Simon Brown who practices holistic health therapies and includes Boy George as one of his celebrity clients is facing a High Court claim for his assets which include a west London flat, registered in his sole name; a collection of classic Jaguar cars and the royalties of two books which he has published since 2010.

His former partner Dragana Brown is bringing the claim against him for half of these assets on the basis that Mr Brown on numerous occasions made assertions that she was his common law wife and would be ‘well looked after in the event of the relationship ending’.

The parties were together for fifteen years, during which time they had a child together. It was after the relationship ended in 2008 that Mr Brown told Ms Brown that she had ‘no legal or beneficial interest in any of his assets’.

Counsel for Ms Brown asserts that although the flat was purchased in Mr Brown’s sole name in September 1993, it had always been the intention and understanding of the parties that it was to be seen as their ‘joint home’. In explaining why Ms Brown moved into the flat five months after purchase Ms Brown cites the cause for delay as Mr Brown telling her that the timing and direction of her move had to be correct with feng shui principles.

Following the birth of the parties son in 1996 Ms Brown raised concerns about her position and future well-being should the couple ever separate. According to Ms Brown,  Mr Brown told her that she was protected as a common law wife. The parties agreed and understood this to mean that they both owned 50 per cent of the property and other assets which were subsequently purchased.

Ms Brown is also claiming that she is entitled to book royalties because she had edited and co-authored the books as well as making substantial payments toward the upkeep of the family home and maintenance of the family.

Legal counsel for Mr Brown denies that Ms Brown has any legal or beneficial interest in the flat, cars or books. Also denied is that (i) feng shui had anything to do with the timing of Ms Brown moving into the flat (ii) that the property was bought by Mr Brown with the intention that it would be a joint home (iii) that Mr Brown had ever described Ms Brown as a common law wife and (iv) that Ms Brown had edited or co-authored either of the books he has had published.

Making a statement outside Court Ms Brown commented that there are so many women who are under the illusion that there is such a thing as a common law wife – of which she was one. She continued that she could walk away from the case with nothing, but wants to ‘get it out there so other people know’.  She ended by calling for the law to be changed to give long-term partners similar property rights to married women calling it outdated.

This latest case in the common law wife saga again highlights the fact that acohabiting couple do not have the same rights as a married couple who are seeking a divorce and parties are not entitled to a 50:50 split.

If you have separated from your partner whom you once lived with you may be involved in certain disputes related to children, finances and finances concerning children. Contact our expert family and divorce lawyers who on hearing all the facts of the case can advise you on the best way to proceed with the matter. We can also advice you on any other family law issue.

To speak with one of our family and divorce solicitors contact us for a confidential chat by:

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