Responding to Theresa May’s announcement yesterday on plans to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, Graeme Fraser, the chairman of Resolution’s cohabitation committee, said:
“The announcement is surely a victory for equality, with the extension of civil partnerships to all, allowing those who do not wish to get married and their children the benefits of a formalised relationship. It is also a step in the right direction as it helps bring family law in line with modern values.”
If a same-sex couple enters into a civil partnership, they will be able to make a financial claim in the event of dissolution. If one of them dies, the surviving partner will be able to claim against their late partner’s pension scheme.
Civil partnerships are infinitely preferable to unthinking and risky cohabitation. Two-thirds of people who cohabit don’t actually realise they are unprotected, as “common-law marriage” does not exist. Cohabiting couples are less likely to formalise their relationship through marriage or a civil partnership, as they do not realise that they are at risk if they separate or if one partner dies without making a will.
Resolution has repeatedly called on the government to urgently provide at least basic rights for cohabiting couples. Hopefully, in time, the government will change the law to allow the justice system to recognise unmarried family units, irrespective of any formal registration, to financially protect the couple and any children.
In the meantime, Keith Bull, head of the family & divorce department at Bromleys Solicitors LLP in Ashton-under-Lyne, recommends that unmarried couples protect themselves by entering into a cohabitation agreement. This will regulate their cohabitation and/or a trust deed stating how their property is to be divided in the event of the death of one party, or their relationship coming to an end, to save substantial legal fees and to give their relationship certainty.
If you need any advice in relation to the above, or any other family matters, please contact our expert family & divorce team on 0161 330 6821 or email:
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Denise Pinder – firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristie Fawcett – email@example.com
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