Written evidence submitted by Revd Dan Young [HAB0177]
Cohabitation: Response to consultation
In the introduction to the consultation, it is stated that cohabitation is the fastest growing social unit in the UK. It is also generally admitted that social instability is increasing here. Could these two facts be linked?
The introduction also asks us to consider how to define cohabitation. This uncertainty would prove very difficult to solve in law, and points to the cardinal problem: cohabitation is not a stable social unit, and no legislation could make it stable. This is easily demonstrated. By the age of five, half of children with cohabiting parents experience the separation of those parents; whereas only 15% of children whose parents are married or in a civil partnership have the same experience. I believe there is already legislation concerning parental rights and responsibilities, whatever the status of the [former] relationship.
The welfare system should provide an adequate safety net for adults in financial difficulties, and property rights in law are clear. But to provide protection in law for cohabitees equivalent to those associated with civil partnership and marriage is to enshrine instability in legislation. Surely the law should promote those relationships which last.