This week is Resolution's Cohabitation Awareness week, which focuses on the need for reform of the legal rights for cohabiting couples who separate.
Despite the fact that common law marriage was abolished in 1753, there remains a popular misconception that someone can become a "common law spouse" if they have lived with their partner for a certain number of years.
Statistics released by the ONS in August 2019 show that cohabiting families are the fastest growing family type in the UK, and many of those cohabiting do not realise how differently the law treats cohabiting couples to married couples when they separate, but also on death.
Last year the Supreme Court ruled that the Government's refusal to pay bereavement benefits to a widowed mother simply because she was not married to her partner was incompatible with Human Rights Law. The Government is yet to take steps to rectify the disparity in this area, and has since sought to argue that cohabitation is "not a straightforward concept", despite applying it to the rest of the benefits system.
Whilst we have seen progress in relation to important family law reforms recently, there remains a need to update cohabitation laws, so that the laws cohabiting couples have to rely on are brought in to the modern world.
If you are cohabiting with a partner or intend to cohabit with your partner and require any help or advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Over a year after a Supreme Court ruling said the Government’s refusal to pay bereavement benefits to a widowed mother – simply because she wasn’t married to her partner – was incompatible with human rights law, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Frank Field has condemned the DWP’s “baseless, risible” defence of its policy.