Should cohabiting couples be permitted to bring more comprehensive financial applications to court upon separation? This longstanding discussion amongst family lawyers in England continues and will continue afresh in the wake of the recent House of Commons Briefing Paper “Common law marriage” and Cohabitation published on 4 May 2021.
There are strong and well-known arguments on each side. Couples that choose not to marry may have conscientiously chosen to not have their assets joined and therefore should not be subjected to the same rules as married couples. On the other side, proponents point toward the change in societal attitudes toward marriage with fewer couples are marrying and being left with limited protection on relationship breakdown.
The briefing paper provided a background to the current law on cohabitation (or lack thereof) and touched on the Law Commission Report of 2007 which called for reform. The paper also highlights the responses from various Members of Parliament to the implementation of a new codified system of law for cohabiting couples.
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