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The Law Commission published its report Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown on 31 July, recommending the introduction of a new scheme of financial remedies which would not apply to all cohabitants and where it did apply would only give rise to remedies relating to contributions made to the relationship. The Commission has concluded in the light of consultation that reform is necessary: financial remedies would respond to the economic impact of the parties contributions to the relationship and first consideration would be given to any dependent children of the couple. Cohabitants would not be expected to meet each others future needs by means of maintenance payments and there would be no principle that the parties should share their assets equally. The scheme would apply to those couples who have had a child together or who have lived together for a minimum period.
The Commission recommends that the minimum period for couples without children should be set within a range of two to five years. Couples who wished to do so could opt out of the scheme by a written agreement to that effect. They would then be free to make their own arrangements for what would happen to their assets in the event of separation. The report makes recommendations to Government. It will be for Government to decide whether and when to introduce legislation in Parliament in order to implement them. The recommendations apply only to England and Wales. In Scotland, cohabitants have had access to statutory remedies on separation since May 2006. For more information see September  Fam Law. For the full report see http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/cohabitation.htm.