Written evidence from Nuneaton Children’s Contact Centre [HAB0017]
I am the coordinator of Nuneaton Children’s Contact Centre, one of the centres accredited by The National Association of Child Contact Centres and I see the impact of the breakdown of cohabiting partners on a weekly basis, so much so that since I took over as coordinator there has always been a waiting list. My concern is that encouraging more cohabitation will put undue stress on child contact centres that are already overloaded
There is no need for a legal definition of cohabitation and no legislative changes are required to protect the rights of cohabiting partners in the event of death, a will provides all the protection that is requires.
There is absolutely no need to legislate to give cohabiting partners the same rights as married couples, if they want those rights they can choose to get married, this would also protect the rights of any children in the partnership.
It is clear from statistics that a cohabitational relationship is much more unstable than marriage; in partnerships with children, over half of the children will have experienced the separation of their parents, in a marriage this is much lower at about 15% demonstrating the instability of cohabitation. I see this regularly in my role as coordinator of the child contact centre. Thus, encouraging cohabitation will statistically encourage more family breakdowns in the UK costing billions of pounds every year.
If couples want better protection but do not wish to be married, civil partnerships are already available, there is absolutely no need at all to create yet another alternative to marriage.
The best path in my opinion would be for the Government to hold a publicity campaign to educate those cohabitees that they don’t have the same rights as married couples and suggest they enter into civil partnerships or at the very least, make wills.