Written evidence from Anthony Williams [HAB0159]
I make this independent submission as the child (now adult) of a happily married couple who brought me up in a loving environment and provided loving support throughout my life. This environment was a direct consequence of my parent’s marriage and their life-long commitment to each other. I therefore believe that everything possible should be done to foster that commitment in all partnerships.
I am therefore very concerned by suggestions that co-habiting couples should be given the same legal rights as those who are legally married or in a legally recognised civil partnership.
If they are given equivalence it would completely undermine the status of marriage and the commitments made by civil partners. This would be a grave mistake.
Formal partnerships bring with them stability which is essential if children of the relationship are to be given a truly supportive upbringing, and one hopes a loving environment as well.
For five year olds with married parents, only 15% experience a separation of their parents. The number for co-habiting parents is 53%. This can be disastrous for the children and the cost to the country is enormous. This alone is a strong argument to foster marriage and civil partnerships.
Both marriage and civil partnerships require a public commitment to each other. This can encourage or even ensure that if a couple’s relationship encounters difficulty there is an incentive to work through the problems rather than simply walk away.
If a co-habiting couple is concerned about the possible future consequences of ending their relationship then they already have the option of either getting married of entering into a civil partnership.
I do not see the need to create any other legal arrangement specifically for those who choose to co-habit.