common law

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One of the two major legal systems of the modern Western world (the other is civil law), it originated in the UK and is now followed in most English speaking countries. Initially, common law was founded on common sense as reflected in the social customs. Over the centuries, it was supplanted by statute law (rules enacted by a legislative body such as a Parliament) and clarified by the judgments of the higher courts (that set a precedent for all courts to follow in similar cases). These precedents are recognized, affirmed, and enforced by subsequent court decisions, thus continually expanding the common law.
In contrast to civil law (which is based on a rigid code of rules), common law is based on broad principles. And whereas every defendant who enters a criminal trial under civil law is presumed guilty until proven innocent, under common law he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Use 'common law' in a Sentence

Many states recognize common law marriages where assets have to be split when a couple breaks up after a certain number of years even if there was no official marriage.
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My boyfriend and I bought a home 6 years ago. We never got married but because if common law legally in a year I have rights to fifty percent. We are spitting up and selling the home.
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My boyfriend and I bought a home 6 years ago. We never got married but because if common law legally in a year I have rights to fifty percent. We are spitting up and selling the home.
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