Speaking about this morning’s Supreme Court judgment in favour of civil partnerships for opposite sex couples, Graeme Fraser, Chair of Resolution’s Cohabitation Committee, said:
“This morning’s judgment highlights the importance of recognising different types of family units in order to help financially protect both the couple – and any children – upon death or relationship breakdown. However, although this judgment helps those who wish to formally recognise their union, nearly 7 million people in England and Wales are living as part of a cohabiting couple, affording them virtually no protections should the relationship break down.
Although many still believe the common law marriage myth, unmarried couples have no basic legal protections in place regardless of how long they’ve been together or even if they have children, leading to unfair outcomes very often disproportionately affecting women and children.
Fundamentally, and as a priority, government must act to put in place basic protections for these couples. In the shorter-term, government should act to combat the widespread belief that rights are gained through ‘common law marriage’ and encourage unmarried couples to take out a cohabitation agreement, enter into declarations of trust to regulate property ownership and make wills to reduce the risk of unfairness and poverty for unmarried partners who separate or are left bereaved, and their children.”