New private member’s bill would introduce cohabitation rights

Couple on benchA new private member’s bill would introduce cohabitation rights to England and Wales.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Marks introduced the bill, which aims to implement recommendations originally made by the Law Commission in 2007.

The Commission proposed limited financial rights for unmarried couples who had lived together for a particular period or had a child, rights which cohabiting couples could choose to opt out of if they wished.

Current cohabitation law is “… uncertain and expensive to apply,” they claimed, and “because it was not designed for cohabitants, often gives rise to results that are unjust.”

But in September 2011, the government said it had no plans to introduce cohabitation legislation within the current parliament.

The new private member’s bill would, if passed, apply to all couples who have lived together for a period of two years or more, or who have children, the Solicitors Journal reports. They would gain new rights, including the right to apply for a financial settlement within two years of the relationship ending, providing the person applying made a significant contribution.

Courts would be able to order similar settlements to those paid in divorce cases, such as lump sum payments, pension sharing and property sales.

Couples would only be allowed to opt out of the scheme if they have received independent legal advice.

Photo by Dave Emmett via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

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4 comments

Luke - October 15, 2013 at 5:20pm

“Courts would be able to order similar settlements to those paid in divorce cases, such as lump sum payments, pension sharing and property sales.”
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Yup, here it comes – as the marriage rate precipitously declines the government and the legal system have to chase the cash cow.

For men and women with significant assets (inc. pension) and/or a decent job who is in any kind of relationship I would suggest the following:
Talk to your partner about sorting out a cohabitation agreement immediately – if you cannot come to an agreement then move out – or accept that she will take most of your wealth in the future if she so wishes. If you have kids the whole thing becomes much more difficult – but it really isn’t sensible to have such a situation without a contract because you can be financially ruined.

Most men will get caught out here through ignorance, that’s why they are making a cohabitation agreement opt out instead of opt in – they are banking on asset stripping the wealthier partner in the future in a high number of cases – and they will.

Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham - October 16, 2013 at 8:07pm

Luke this proposed change has nothing to do with chasing the ‘cash cow’. The beauty of common law is that it has the ability to adjust as societal changes require. In the case of cohabitation, times have changed and attitudes toward marriage have changed as well.

Stitchedup - October 17, 2013 at 11:14am

I’ve been thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that the perceived need for such measures are symptomatic of a society in decline. However, they do not tackle the roost cause of the problems i.e. the systematic destruction of family values as a result of feminist political correctness.

The founder of refuge, Erin Pizzey commented on feminism (the movement): “the movement, which proclaimed that all men are potential rapists and batterers, was based on a lie that, if allowed to flourish, would result in the complete destruction of family life.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1215464/Why-I-loathe-feminism—believe-ultimately-destroy-family.html#ixzz2hyGyIalJ

We are witnessing the systematic destruction of family life by feminists, politicians, judiciary and the legal system/professions all infected with feminist political correctness.

They may be chasing the “cash cow” but they’re also chasing their tails. Men are boycotting marriage because divorce/separation is so easy and so common, and Family law so biased against men. Is it surprising that many prefer to cohabit to test the relationship and protect their assets?

Level the playing field, stop asset stripping and demonising men. Accept, as Pizzey did, that “women can be as vicious and irresponsible as men”. Stop unnecessary state intrusion into family life; DV should mean DV not “name calling” or other petty interactions that as children we were taught to ignore.

Rather than destroying relationships focus on repairing relationships, promote marriage guidance and family arbitration for married and cohabiting couples, particularly when children are involved. Educate women and young girls that they have relationship responsibilities also…. e.g. men should not be expected to endure constant criticism and negativity, accept their family and friends, socialise and behave as a couple, give him space and allow him to follow some hobbies. Accept that men and women are different, they have different needs and strengths, they contribute to a relationship and a household in different ways. A man shouldn’t be expected to be a man and a woman, not PC I know, but true.

A million fatherless children in the UK!, enough is enough.

Luke - October 17, 2013 at 3:59pm

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“Luke this proposed change has nothing to do with chasing the ‘cash cow’. ”
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Well we fundamentally disagree on that Matt, it’s the key point – if there was no money in it they wouldn’t be doing it.
It’s the golden rule, follow the money.

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In the case of cohabitation, times have changed and attitudes toward marriage have changed as well.
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Yes, attitudes towards marriage HAVE changed, but it didn’t just ‘happen’, have you not thought about WHY it is happening ???
Marriage has become unpopular because of all that it entails.
Many people – especially men – have looked at the appalling deal that marriage (and especially effectively no-fault divorce) offers and said ‘nope’.

So the solution they are taking is to force it on everybody even though there is no contract at all – it’s a disgrace.

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