Written evidence from Tim Wills [HAB0011]


I am writing to argue against the Women and Equalities committee’s proposals’s to increase the legal rights of cohabiting partners. The committee is expressing a desire to see the legal rights of cohabitees increased, to be more like marriage or a civil partnership.


Their reasoning, as set out in the inquiry page of their website, seems to be that Cohabiting partners are the fastest growing “type of family” with c.3.4 people in such a situation in England or Wales currently.


I think it would be a very bad decision to give legal and monetary incentives to people to cohabit. And the reason for this is that I believe the Government of the UK should be promoting stability in our society wherever possible. It is true to say that an increasing proportion of our community has seen parents get divorced, and felt the pain which often follows, and are therefore nervous about committing to marriage.


However it is also true (and perhaps self fulfilling) that cohabitation is a much less stable platform than marriage, with a much higher rate of relationship failure than marriage.


Can I ask why the committee think it a good idea to promote an arrangement that is less stable than marriage? Does the committee really think it is a good idea to promote a relationship format where children are much more likely to experience parental separation? Do the committee want a society that is increasingly less stable? Does the committee have an agenda to promote instability within families? I suspect not but I would like to know.


If not, then why not make cohabiting partners aware of the different levels of rights, and point them towards marriage or civil partnerships? 


As it is, the young people of the UK are having to contend with ridiculous house prices (both rent and freehold values) due to an overly protective planning system, which have the effect of pushing romantically involved couples into cohabiting before they are ready to commit.


Why then does the committee feel it necessary to put further pressure on young people to cohabit? 


Please could the committee study the evidence around the stability of marriage/civil partnerships/cohabiting before deciding which arrangement to promote?


Many thanks for all your work, which is genuinely appreciated. Don’t undermine it with poor proposals like this one.


June 2021