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Cohabitants need special financial protection if they split

When the recent case of a widowed cohabitee’s rights to her late partner’s pension made the news, I did wonder whether the decision may have an effect on co-habitation law generally.

Rights for cohabitants are limited

Cohabitation does not afford people the same rights in law as married parties.  As the law currently stands, claims for cohabiting couples are limited and couples are generally unaware of these imitations.  Is it time for change?

In the case of an application by Denise Brewster for judicial review (northern Ireland) (2017) UKSC 8, the decision at the supreme court must be seen as a move forward and hopefully this will lead to pension schemes altering their polices to ensure that, upon death, there is protection for the survivor and their children.

Cohabitants should plan for their future

Perhaps it’s time for the government to move more proactively in updating co-habitation laws for separating couples and families?

In the meantime, I come across many people who believe that their position is protected and that they are entitled to a settlement. This is simply not the case under current co-habitation laws.

Contrary to (still) popular belief, there is no such thing as a common law wife or husband. No one is entitled to make a claim simply because they have lived with their partner for a length of time. 

Co-habitation agreements can help

So how can cohabiting couples protect themselves if they split up?  A co-habitation agreement will go some way to resolving this and these can be drawn up cost-effectively through mediation, where both parties agree what they would like to happen in the event of their separation.

To find out more, call Sara Scanlon at our Halifax office on 01422 339637 or contact our Family and Mediation teams in Brighouse (01484 710571) or Huddersfield (01484 483800).

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