• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The present law governing cohabiting couples has been widely criticized; so much so that the Law Commission has characterised the existing rules as arbitrary, uncertain and unfair[1]. There have been many attempts and various consultations to change and r

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The present law governing cohabiting couples has been widely criticized; so much so that the Law Commission has characterised the existing rules as arbitrary, uncertain and unfair1. There have been many attempts and various consultations to change and reform the law on property and financial provision when cohabiting couples separate to provide them with more rights and to put them in the same position as those following divorce or dissolution. The increase in cohabitation instigates the necessity an appropriate and timely response from the law to regulate this new tradition. Nevertheless, the government has acknowledged the insufficiency of the current Law; therefore the Law Commission has conducted research over a two year period that culminated in a report published in 2007. The report sets out numerous issues the legislators face in regard to cohabitation and suggests for a possible reform. This assignment will be discussing whether reform is really necessarily the only possible solution in place separating cohabiting couples in the same position as those following divorce or dissolution. The Family Law Act 19962 has defined 'Cohabitation' as "a man and woman who, even though never married, are living together as husband and wife". This definition is however limited, as it lacks acknowledgment of different types of cohabiting couples (e.g. same-sex couples). There is an increase in the amount of cohabiting couples in recent years. The 2001 Census, confirmed that, in the last 10 years the number of cohabiting couples has increased by 67%, and according to the Law Commission Report3, it stated that cohabitation is "expected to become more prevalent in the future"4. ...read more.

Middle

There are also other reasons why the Government, through public statements and policies, seek to encourage marriage and civil partnership. A former President of the Family Division, Sir George baker has argued that marriage provides the 'building blocks' of society and is 'essential to the will-being of our society' as we understand it21. Nevertheless, Lord Hoffmann has declared that it would be discriminatory to assume a particular unmarried couple could never be as good as married couple22. Another state benefit is that by managing the start of a relationship the state is able to regulate the relationship if it breaks. The state may wish to ensure that at the end of a relationship the arrangements for children will promote the child's welfare, and that the spouse's or civil partner's property is divided between them in a way that is just and fair. However, this does not apply to cohabiting couples as the court may well not be involved at the end of the relationship, unless there is a dispute, and only then will the court intervene23. On the question of whether there should be reform at all, there are a wide range of different views. It is clearly not possible to achieve anything approaching a consensus, and there are many who oppose any reform in this area as a matter of principle. However, recent research conducted by the British Social Attitudes survey24 indicates that a substantial majority of people think cohabitants should have access to financial remedies on relationship breakdown25. ...read more.

Conclusion

In New Zealand, the Civil Union Act has been in place since 2004 and this provides certain rights and obligations to cohabitants. The French government in 1999 introduced the pacte civil de solidarite (PACS) which has proved to be a popular substitute to marriage for cohabitating couples. It contains fewer rights, imposes less responsibility than marriage and has become socially acceptable in France33. In essence, France arguably has the most development of the civil union concept. In conclusion, it is important to note that any reform should be set at a lower threshold regarding rights and obligations than that of marriage and the ancillary relief upon divorce. Despite the decrease in marriage rates, it is still considered as the traditional form of union in this country. The societal reasons for declining to align cohabitation with marriage are influential but the legal ones are significant too, as there is not a present need to create a replacement to marriage. The role of marriage should be preserved in society, especially that, reports have concluded that marriage is better for individuals and society. After the new Scottish legislation has been scrutinised by the Government, it is anticipated that a Bill will be introduced. On the whole in my opinion, the fact that the parties have not entered into the commitment of marriage should be respected by the law, and they should expect a lower level of jurisdiction by the court and State. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Family Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Family Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The distinctions between void and voidable marriages serve no purpose in modern family law ...

    4 star(s)

    Before the reformation in the sixteenth century, there was no divorce, although, according to Cannon Law, marriages could be annulled. The law in the twenty-first century, although has divorce, is still following ideas from over 300 years ago. Is this not somewhat outdated?

  2. Are cohabiting couples treated as if they were married? Critically review recent proposals to ...

    cohabitation is positive, with 67 per cent of respondents agreeing that it is "alright for a couple to live together without intending to get married"3 There are several social factors that are impacting on the rate of cohabiting couples; firstly, the marriage rates are decreasing by the year, with the

  1. This essay will firstly address the similarities and differences between marriage and civil partnerships. ...

    Humphrey's outlines the instance in which Baroness O'Cathain attempted to make the, 'differences between marriages and civil partnerships more pronounced' 9 by allowing family members to enter into civil partnerships. Joynt remarks that the CPA 2004 is basically identical to the MCA 1973 in every way and that the 'State

  2. Who has parental responsibility & what is the significance in having it?

    with 'parental responsibility' has the right to make decisions about the child's upbringing." Therefore when a person is granted parental responsibility, they acquire all the rights, powers and responsibilities in relation to the child. This assumption is not necessarily correct.

  1. Marriage in family law

    The amount of people that cohabitate in England is on the increase. According to national statistics 44% of children were born into non married households8 in 2006, compared with only 8% in 19719. However, the legal protection offered to cohabitants with children do not mirror the legal protection given to married couples.

  2. Law of the home: Ancillary relief Evaluation

    Evident within Article 27(2)(b) and the ?Duxbury calculation,? which calculated a lump sum which, if suitably invested, would produce enough income to meet the reasonable requirements of the recipient?s future, which emerged superior in the absence of an overriding principle[13]. This ?reasonable requirements? approach continued to ?assign a lower value to care-giving?[14], coupled with

  1. Cohabitation - the need for legal reform

    [5] This evidence suggests that the Church of England therefore may not be offended per se by the recommendations made by the law commission to include legal remedies for cohabitants, but instead more conscious of creating a sense of fairness of legal rights and remedies to both legal and non-legal relationships.

  2. Free essay

    Discuss the Children Act's Welfare Principle. Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 ...

    The Court refused this appeal because of the Human Rights Act and the welfare principle, again showing no signs of incompatibility.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work