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The Cohabitation Rights Bill has had its second reading in the House of Lords and has been passed through the committee stage.
The Bill, which was introduced by Lord Marks, intends to give greater rights to cohabiting couples. There are currently 2,859,000 cohabiting households in Britain who could potentially benefit from such reform.
Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers, proposes a new cohabitation law which would go further than Lord Marks’ Bill to create what it sees as a more fair system for cohabiting couples. The couples would have to meet certain eligibility criteria to indicate that they are in a committed relationship. This includes living together for a minimum period or having a child together.
The new proposals would give cohabiting parties an automatic right to apply for certain financial orders upon separation. If the parties did not wish to apply for such orders they would have to “opt out".
Additionally, Resolution suggest that the Court should be required to make an order to reflect the actual contributions made by each party and to compensate them accordingly rather than make an initial assumption of equality. It also suggests “time limited” maintenance payments to encourage self-sufficiency of the financially reliant party.
Until such a law is passed, cohabiting couples are advised to act with caution and to seek legal advice as to their legal position at significant points in their relationship and not to wait until the relationship has broken down.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles