An interesting Bill for cohabitating couples has been introduced to the House of Lords by Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames. The Cohabitation Rights Bill (‘the Bill’) was first read on 6th February 2020. The Bill would provide a framework for the rights of cohabitating couples on the breakdown of a relationship or on the death of one of the partners. However, this is a Private Members’ Bill so it unlikely that it will be passed since there has been some opposition to the Bill.
Currently, on the breakdown of a relationship, cohabitants have no automatic rights to the division of property or other assets. Additionally on the death of a partner there are no automatic rights for the surviving cohabitating partner to succeed to their partner’s estate if they died intestate (without making a valid will) therefore leaving many cohabitating partners in a vulnerable position.
The Bill would apply to cohabitating couples who either had a dependant child or have been living together for a minimum of 3 years. The Bill is set to include:
- A right for either cohabitant (on the breakdown of a relationship) to apply to a Court for a financial settlement order to redress any financial benefit or economic disadvantage resulting from the period of cohabitation;
- Cohabitants will have the right to succeed to their partner’s estate under intestacy rules which would provide similar rights to married or civil partner couples;
- And, the right to have an insurable interest in the life of their partner.
This is positive news if you are in a long-term relationship and live together. There is also the option if you have chosen to not get married and you do not want to qualify for financial settlement then you can ‘opt out’ of this.
If you would like advice in relation to the breakdown of a relationship or any legal issue relating to children or family matters, please contact 0117 904 6000 and ask to speak to a member of our Family team.