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Letter to The Times regarding Cohabitation Reform

Letter to The Times regarding Cohabitation Reform

The Times Letter Page

The Times ran the following letter on 2nd May 2018:


As three organisations calling for improved legal rights for cohabitants, we wholly concur with your leader article (“Discrimination in Death,” 30th April).

Many couples who live together without marrying or entering a civil partnership mistakenly believe that they are legally protected as “common-law spouses”. Yet upon their partner’s death, they realise all too late that they are not. And the discrimination the surviving partner experiences extends far beyond a lack of entitlement to benefits.

The intestate’s estate passes through a long line of recipients, without any mention of their cohabiting partner, who is left to make a limited claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

At 3.3 million in 2017, cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type, leaving increasing numbers of people at severe financial risk should their partner pass away, adding to their grief and suffering.

If the government is serious about strengthening families, then it needs to recognise that in 21st Century Britain, “families” come in many different shapes. All deserve some degree of recognition, and protection, from the state.

Margaret Heathcote, National Chair of Resolution

Frances Judd QC, Chair of the Family Law Bar Association

Penelope Reed QC, former Chair of the Chancery Bar Association"