Cohabiting couples need their own law


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24 October 2006

A kind reader sent a link to this letter in The Business Online, basically some guy pointing out what most of us have figured out already; that the recent cohabitation laws will send the cohabitation rate plummeting just like the marriage rate.

The penultimate paragraph is especially worrying; it’s already the case in other Western nations that men can end up obligated to pay for another man’s children should he be foolish enough to marry or cohabit with their mother. This will happen here too no doubt (although why any man would want to get involved with a single mother is beyond me.)

He also sticks to being “gender neutral” when really we know that it’ll be men avoiding getting involved with women; even if a woman is wealthier than a live-in boyfriend, it’s hardly likely that she’ll have to pay him maintenance or surrender most of her assets to him.

Sir – The government may, on the face of it, be in favour of committed relationships between heterosexual couples, but if proposals currently being mooted by the Law Commission find their way into legislation, people are more likely to be deterred from cohabiting than encouraged.

Married couples’ rights in the event of a split are governed by divorce legislation, and same sex couples can now enter into legally binding civil partnerships, but cohabiting couples have never been fully recognised as a legal entity. With more couples considering cohabiting as an alternative to marriage, particularly in the light of recent high settlement divorces, the rights of couples living together certainly need urgent review. Currently even pre-nuptial agreements, which are becoming increasingly popular, are not legally enforceable – regardless of whether the couple is married or not.

The most fundamental change suggested by the Law Commission is that couples living together would automatically enter into a contractual relationship unless they made a conscious decision to opt out. Discussing opting out at the very same time as embarking on a committed relationship will be difficult for many couples to broach. And what of those who have already been cohabiting for some time? The Law Commission’s proposals could well result in a move away from not only marriage but any form of emotional commitment. Certainly anyone thinking of moving in with a partner without the legal ties of a marriage or civil partnership should review potential legal and financial implications in the light of this proposed new legislation.

The report also makes no allowance for assets accumulated by either party prior to cohabiting. The picture become even more disturbing where there are children involved: anyone cohabiting with, or even spending time with, another person with children from previous relationships could find themselves legally obliged to pay for those children should the relationship break down.

These proposed new laws do very little to encourage committed relationships, and seem to fly in the face of the government’s stated policy on marriage and cohabiting.

John McBride

The problem is, of course, is that this guy is still suggesting we have a “law” for cohabiting couples. That’s the last thing we need. In fact what we want is for the law to get out of private relationships, especially as its only ever on the woman’s side.

Don’t marry, don’t co-habit.

posted by Duncan Idaho @ 5:42 PM


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At 6:21 PM, nevo said…

All these meddlesome, officious hoofed mammals, just can’t leave us alone to get on with our lives as we know it.
They just want to justify their income by way of patronization of the populace.

I’ll be damn if I ever pay for a drink, let alone pay for a dinner, lest she runs away before the bill lands on the table.

Sex for money?

That just suits me fine!!

NEVO

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At 1:29 AM, mfsob said…

Yeah, I always laugh – loudly – at any guy that says, “I’ve never paid for it.”

You ALWAYS pay for it, coming, going, one way or the other, because women don’t give – they TAKE. Always.

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At 6:06 PM, Anonymous said…

Never trust, much less MARRY, a f’n bych. They are all lying skanks!!!!!!

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