Women and Equalities Committee issues report on cohabitation rights

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has issued a report titled ‘The rights of cohabiting partners’, highlighting the risks faced by cohabitants on relationship breakdown or the death of a partner.

The Unmarried Couple

Many people don’t realise that there is a no such thing as ‘common law’ spouse.  If you are unmarried you do not have the protection of the law that relates to divorcing couples even if you have lived together for a long time or have children together.

It is often the women in such situations that find themselves without the support that they feel they need and would have had if they’d been married.


The report states that the lack of legal protection on family breakdown means that women, including women from an ethnic minority background and those who have had a religious-only wedding, can suffer relationship-generated disadvantage and that there is a need for the law to be adapted to the social reality of modern relationships while still recognising the social and religious status of marriage.


The report calls for the Government to legislate for an opt-out cohabitation scheme, as previously proposed by the Law Commission in its 2007 report ‘Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown (Law Com 307)’, and for the Ministry of Justice to commission a refresh review of the Law Commission recommendations to see if they need updating.


The Committee also supports the Law Commission’s 2011 proposals concerning intestacy and family provision claims for cohabiting partners and calls on the Government to implement those proposals. In addition, the report recommends the publication of clear guidelines on how pension schemes should treat surviving cohabitants when claiming a survivor’s pension and a review of the inheritance tax regime so it is the same for cohabiting partners as it is for married couples and civil partners.

Finally, the recommendations include for there to be a public awareness campaign to inform people of the legal distinctions between getting married, forming a civil partnership and living together as cohabitees.

To read the full report follow this link The rights of cohabiting partners – Women and Equalities Committee (parliament.uk).

How Keelys Solicitors can help

As members of Resolution (About Resolution | Resolution)  Keelys Family Lawyers are fully aware of the impact and worry separation can cause people.  Contact us today for advice and assistance with cohabitation issues, including cohabitation agreements and child and prenuptial agreements. 

We operate fixed fee arrangements by agreement in relation to cohabitation agreements and pre nuptial agreements.

Please contact our head of department, Julie Slater-Williams on 01543 420011 for more information.

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