Friday, 25 January 2008


Findings from the British Social Attitudes report published on Wednesday by the National Centre for Social Research back the case for urgent reform of the law affecting couples who live together. The new report revealed widespread confusion over what protection live together couples have under the law, with 51 percent of people believing that cohabiting couples have rights as “common law” spouses – but no such rights exist.

A government-funded awareness campaign in 2004 has clearly failed to get the message across that living together does not provide cohabiting couples with financial rights if their relationship ends, even if they have lived together for many years and have had children together. Instead, these couples face increased insecurity and distress at the time of break up.

Resolution has been calling for a new law to protect cohabiting couples since 2000. Its members, including myself, regularly witness the injustices created by the current situation, including financial hardship and even homelessness.

On a more positive note, the report found that nine in ten people think that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision if their relationship is a long-term one, includes children and has involved prioritising one partner’s career over the other’s.

Resolution very much hopes that the Government is listening and urges it to commit itself to reform that will provide cohabiting couples with a legal safety net.

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