Common law? Make it law!


There is a common misconception that cohabiting couples have ‘common law’ rights. But no matter how long you might live with your partner and share a home, and no matter whether you have children together, if you are not married you would have very limited claims on your partner for financial assistance if your relationship came to an end.

The Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Marks, recently brought a new Cohabitation Rights Bill to the House of Lords, in a move to try and change that

Recommendations for legal protection for cohabitating couples were made by the Law Commission in 2007. These were rejected by the government only two years ago, yet many would still welcome reform because it would provide a legal framework for couples who are not married or in a civil partnership, if the relationship breaks down.

Under Lord Marks’ proposals, cohabitants who have lived together for more than two years, or who have had children together, would be given similar but more limited rights to those of married couples. They would also have the right to opt out of the scope of the proposed laws, provided that they have received independent legal advice about doing so (in a similar manner to the way a prenuptial agreement works).

The proposal aims to address an inherent injustice; the crucial factor will be whether the government remain indifferent to the call for reform.

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