Cohabitation issue is raised in Parliament

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Campaigners who have been pushing for greater rights for cohabitees were heartened by the fact that the issue was mentioned in a recent debate in the House of Commons.

Last year, the family law association Resolution had organised a Cohabitation Awareness Week, specifically designed to highlight the lack of rights for unmarried couples.

This push to improve the public’s understanding of current legislation and place renewed pressure on MPs to review the law as it stands garnered significant coverage.

And earlier this month, the issue was touched upon as MPs debated a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament.

While the legislation proposed by Tory backbencher Tim Loughton was in fact focused on opening up civil partnerships to same-sex couples – as detailed in last week’s blog – the debate also referenced the cohabitation issue.

Dr David Drew, the Labour MP for Stroud, said: “[Cohabitation Awareness Week] has drawn my attention, and I am sure that of many other Hon. Members, to the lack of rights and the fact that people are totally ignorant about their lack of rights, if there is a breakdown or a loss of one of the cohabiting parents.”

Responding, Mr Loughton said many family law solicitors had written to him to show their support for reform and highlight the cases they regularly dealt with.

“People come to them thinking that they had entitlements and legal status because they had been living together for so long, but they suddenly find out that they do not.

“They have a tax bill and lots of problems and headaches, and their children do not have a home to live in.

“If anything, I hope that the Bill will help to publicise that real problem in the law that the Government need to address at some stage.”

Later in the debate, Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins agreed to speak to her officials in order to improve awareness of current cohabitation laws.

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Graeme Fraser
Posted in Blog, Family Law.