Written evidence submitted by A Hubbard [HAB0068]
Response to the Women & Equality Committee’s consultation on co-habitation rights
I am a private individual.
Strong, stable families form the backbone of a coherent, cohesive, stable society. Marriage provides such families because of the inherent commitment made between the marrying parties in a way which cohabitation does not. Public commitment to marriage promotes such families and therefore the health and stability of society itself.
Cohabitation is demonstrably much more unstable than marriage. All the evidence clearly shows that married couples report healthier lifestyles and better health outcomes. For example, smoking and recreational drug usage is much less common among married women than cohabitees. Married men have better cardiovascular health, better cancer survival rates, lower risk of depression and greater satisfaction in retirement. Cohabitation has particularly adverse consequences for children. By the time they are five, 53% of children with co-habiting parents will have experienced their parent’s separation compared with 15% of children with married parents. All the evidence shows that children of separated parents under-perform educationally, suffer adverse physical and emotional health consequences and are more likely to get into trouble with the criminal justice system. We are already seeing the devastating effects on individuals and society with family breakdown estimated to be costing £50bn every year. This is inevitably made even worse if the same legal rights are given to those who choose not to make such a commitment to each other.
Cohabiting couples have, of their own volition, freely chosen not to marry. Extending the financial rights of marriage to cohabiting couples is akin to forcing those couples to be married, but without first making the express, public commitment to one another that is integral to making marriage work. If couples want the legal protections of marriage, they can get married. Parliament has also made civil partnerships available for all couples which includes no life-long commitment. Creating a second alternative to marriage is completely unnecessary and will profoundly undermine marriage, family stability and the stability of society itself with inevitable devastating consequences.