The Law Commission was asked, by the Government, to consider the options available to reform the law in respect of cohabiting couples’ rights in the event of separation, or death of one of the parties.
The Consultation paper sets out the issues and asks for the public’s views.
LEGAL STATUS BY REGISTRATION
This was rejected. Registration is after all available by marriage.
PROPOSALS FOR CONSIDERATION
- The reforms should only be available to cohabiting couples.
- Once cohabitation was established, any couple with children would automatically be eligible for consideration.
- The courts should be able to order:
- Maintenance Payments
- Lump Sum Payments
- Property Transfer Orders
- Pension Sharing
- Interim Payment Orders
- Whether a surviving partner should automatically inherit some or all of the cohabitant’s estate when one party dies intestate (without leaving a will)
- Whether cohabitation agreements should be legally enforceable.
The purpose of the consultation is to decide whether reform of the law is needed, if so who it should be available to, and what form the new laws should take. There is recognition that cohabiting couples with children may need more suitable remedies available to the financially weaker party on separation from or death of their partner.
The consultation period expires on 30th September 2006 and a final report is expected in summer 2007.