Written evidence from Hopkinson [HAB0018]
Re: Plans to change cohabitees’ rights.
In principle, I do not support the proposals and I would like to make the following points:
- Marriage has particular legal status since statistics show that the public commitment of marriage promotes stability for society and for the upbringing of children. For children of cohabiting parents, by the time they turn five, 53% will have experienced their parents’ separation; for five-year-olds with married parents, this is 15%.
- Marriage is undermined if the same legal rights are given to those who have freely chosen not to be publicly committed to each other. Giving legal rights to cohabitees will encourage cohabitation, which is inherently unstable and so will escalate more family breakdown in society.
- Most of the rights attached to marriage flow naturally from the anticipated lifelong commitment. So when a couple have committed to one another until death separates them, the law automatically provides for when such a death occurs. This does not apply to those who have not made this commitment.
- Why are the proposals seeking a fundamental legal change which would undermine marriage? Surely, there should be an awareness-raising campaign if it’s true there is a widespread perception that people think cohabiting couples should have similar or identical rights to those who are married.