Inquiry launched into the rights of cohabiting partners, the fastest growing family type in England and Wales
28 April 2021
The Women and Equalities Committee today launched an inquiry into the rights of cohabiting partners.
Cohabiting couples make up the fastest growing type of family, with over 3.4 million couples cohabiting in England or Wales. Partners who cohabit currently have less legal protection than those who are married or in a civil partnership in the event of death or separation.
Despite this, there is a widespread perception that cohabiting partners have similar or identical rights to those who are married or in a civil partnership.
The Committee will use this inquiry to examine what legal protection for cohabiting partners could look like and how it might be introduced.
Caroline Nokes, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committees, said:
‘Given that cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in England, it is surprising that they do not share the same legal rights as others.
‘The Committee wants to use this inquiry to explore exactly what legal protection for these partners could look like and whether they should have the same rights as those who are married or in a civil partnership.
‘We hope to examine whether people in cohabiting relationships would benefit from a legal definition, as well as finding out what that should be. We’d also like to explore what legislative changes, if any, are needed to better protect the rights of cohabiting partners if the worst happens.’
Terms of Reference
The Committee welcomes written evidence submissions from individuals, legal practitioners and organisations. Key questions for the inquiry are:
- Should there be a legal definition of cohabitation and, if so, what should it be?
- What legislative changes, if any, are needed to better protect the rights of cohabiting partners in the event of death or separation?
- What equalities issues are raised by the lack of legal protection for those in cohabiting relationships?
- Should legal changes be made to better provide for the children of cohabiting partners?
- Should cohabiting partners have the same rights as those who are married or in a civil partnership?
- Are there examples of good practice in relation to the rights of cohabiting partners in the UK or internationally that the Government should seek emulate in England and Wales?
Your submission should:
- be concise - if over 3,000 words, include a short summary as well
- include an introduction to you or your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence
- not already be published
Deadline for submissions
Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s web portal by Sunday 4 July. It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons which outlines particulars of word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.
We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.