• The Cohabitation Rights Bill got one step closer to becoming law after the Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords and passed through to Committee stage. If passed, the bill would give cohabiting couples some similar, but not all, rights as those currently enjoyed by married couples on separation.

    Currently cohabiting couples have little protection when they separate. Scores of couples still hold the incorrect assumption that they are protected on separation and have similar rights as married couples as they are “common law” partners which is a legal myth.

    Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation and other family problems, have been campaigning for a change in this area of law for a number of years. Steve Kirwan, who leads Resolution’s work on cohabitation law reform, comments:

    “Ultimately, the law needs to reflect the standards of modern society, and in the case of cohabitation, it does not. More couples are living together than ever before, with an estimated 2,859,000 cohabiting households in Britain – that’s a significant portion of the country who are currently served by outdated and unfair laws.

    The current law on cohabitation is in desperate need of change and we believe that even Lord Marks’ bill, whilst welcome, does not go far enough to address the inequality in the current system.”

    Please click here to read the Bill.

    Whether the Bill will be passed into law remains to be seen, but the passing of the Bill to the committee stage is a welcome step in the right direction for many family lawyers who often find advising cohabitants on the breakdown of their relationship difficult as the current case law can be so widely interpreted.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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