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Cohabitation - the need for legal reform

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Introduction

´╗┐The present law governing cohabitation has been extensively discussed and criticised; so much so that there is constant debate on whether or not there is need for reform relating to cohabitees. Defining the terms ?cohabitation? and ?cohabitant? can be somewhat of a confusing and difficult topic to clarify, as these terms can consist of different opinions and views to various individuals on describing and defining these expressions. Nevertheless, the central consensus is that cohabitation is a type of non-formal relationship which involves two individuals, whether opposite or same-sex, living together as a couple without any legal recognition of that relationship. This in turn differs from formal relationships such as marriage and civil partnerships as these are relationships which can only be created by complying with various statutory formalities.[1] In discussing the various issues surrounding cohabitation, it is essential to analyse the aims and strategies of the Law Commission?s report Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown (Law Com No 307), in relation to the need for reform with regard to cohabitation. The Law Commission in its report as mentioned above, raises several arguments as to the reasons for reform in certain aspects relating to the current law on cohabitees, however, there are also particular arguments and debates that criticise some of the recommendations made in the report that will be discussed in further detail. ...read more.

Middle

Although limited, cohabitees do in certain circumstances; have rights to seek financial provision where children are involved. Cohabiting parents have the same rights and responsibilities to their children as married couples. They also have the same right to apply under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for an order of residence. In acknowledging this point, it can be argued that there would not be such a need for reform in this area if they have virtually the same rights as married couples regarding children. However, Baroness Hale disagreed with this point by stating ?it is entirely fair that he should compensate the children?s carer for the disadvantages that she has suffered?. It can be argued that some of the individuals that choose to cohabit may not want the formality or legal obligation that the state may impose on them if entering into a marriage or civil partnership. Furthermore, it can be added that if cohabitants are desperate to obtain such a right, it would be appropriate to conform to the nature of entering into a legal relationship. Conversely, The Law Commission argued this point by stating that many cohabitants think it wrong to marry purely for legal or financial reasons and they may not be willing to get married unless they can do it ?properly?.[10] Baroness Hale in the judgement held ...read more.

Conclusion

Oxford University Press 2012) at page 46 [2] Law Commission, Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown, (Law Com No 307, 2007) paras 1.2 [3] Law Commission, Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown, (Law Com No 307, 2007) paras 1.2 [4] Maria McKay, ?Church of England Faces Opposition after Approving Cohabitation Rights?, Christian Today (London, 13th October 2006) <http://www.christiantoday.co.uk/article/church.of.england.faces.opposition.after.approving.cohabitation.rights/7979.htm> accessed 24th October 2012 [5] Maria McKay, ?Church of England Faces Opposition after Approving Cohabitation Rights?, Christian Today (London, 13th October 2006) <http://www.christiantoday.co.uk/article/church.of.england.faces.opposition.after.approving.cohabitation.rights/7979.htm> accessed 24th October 2012 [6] Gilmore, S and Glennon, L, Hayes and Williams? Family Law, (3rd ed. Oxford University Press 2012) at page 53 [7] [2007] UKHL 17 [8] [2011] UKSC 53 [9] Law Commission, Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown, (Law Com No 307, 2007) paras 2.15 [10] Law Commission, Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown, (Law Com No 307, 2007) paras 2.56 [11] [2012] UKSC 29 [12] Barrister Edward Hess, ?The rights of cohabitants: When and how will the law be reformed? [2009] Family Law 408 [13] Rebecca Probert, ?The Cohabitation Bill? [2009] Family Law 150 [14] [2012] UKSC 29 [15] Barrister Edward Hess, ?The rights of cohabitants: When and how will the law be reformed? [2009] Family Law 406 [16] Barrister Edward Hess, ?The rights of cohabitants: When and how will the law be reformed? [2009] Family Law 407 [17] [2012] S.L.T. 829 [18] [2012] S.L.T. 829 ...read more.

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