A Private Member’s Bill granting legal rights to cohabiting couples when they break up or when one partner dies was published today by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Jonathan Marks QC.
Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames’ Cohabitation Rights Bill will bring in some legal rights to couples who live together in line with proposals made by the Law Commission in 2007 and 2011.
The number of couples in the UK cohabiting increased from less than 3m in 1996 to 5.9m last year. 38% of those have children.
Lord Marks said: “Increasing numbers of people are choosing to live together rather than getting married or having a civil partnership and they deserve some legal protection.
“For far too long nothing has been done to give cohabiting couples fair treatment when they break up or one partner dies.
“There is a widespread belief that couples who live together get some rights in law as so-called ‘common-law spouses’. But that is a complete myth.
“My Bill will bring in the Law Commission’s proposals made in 2007 and 2011 to give couples who live together some legal rights.”
Under Lord Marks’ Bill, cohabiting couples would not be treated the same as married couples but would have some protection against being taken advantage of when their relationships break down and against being left destitute when one partner dies without a will.
Lord Marks said: “The judges and the legal profession have been calling for these reforms for years – they are long overdue.”
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.