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Should cohabiting couples have the same financial rights and responsibilities as those who are married/in a Civil Partnership?

Date:28 MAR 2024
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Graeme Fraser Partner and Head of Family BBS Law


In this article I report on the FJC annual debate on 7th December on the above-titled motion. Arguments in support of the motion are primarily based on principle and pragmatism. Cohabitation is the fastest growth of family type in this country but the law is reliant on esoteric trust principles resulting in unfair outcomes. Marriage is not devalued by cohabitation rights. De facto relationship recognition has been possible in Australia for decades. Arguments opposing the motion question why those who happen to live together should have their freedom swept away and be treated as if they are married with clear blue water being kept in terms of the legal distinction between marriage and cohabitation. People should be able to rely on the certainty of the current law without undue concern for legal obligations being imposed on them without their agreement. The outcome of the vote on the motion indicates where family lawyers are positioned generally with regards to the prospect of cohabitation law reform. The questions about cohabitation law reform are no longer “if” but rather “how”...

Read the full article here.