Written evidence from Dr Edwin Jones [HAB0222]

 

Couples in the United Kingdom who are of marriageable age have the freedom of choosing to marry or not. If they choose to do so, they enter into a binding contract to stay in a relationship which is mutually supportive and may in time be blessed by the addition of children . United Kingdom law recognises that this is a solemn and mutual commitment. The state recognises the benefit to society by couples entering into such a contract and rewards these couples with certain benefits such  as financial support following the death of one of the partners.

 

Other couples choose the latter course of not marrying and prefer to cohabit. They are therefore not entering into any mutually supportive contract. They should not therefore expect to receive identical treatment to those who do engage in such a contract.

 

There are benefits to society in couples choosing the marriage option. It is known that the risk of subsequent separation of a couple is much lower among those who marry than those who cohabit. The consequential risk of any children of the relationship finding themselves with parents who have split up, and usually with one of the parents leaving the family home is also therefore lower where there is a marriage. Marriage actually serves to enhance the stability and cohesiveness of society and even has wider economic benefits in that it reduces the negative impact on public finances of couples separating.

 

Rather than elevating the status of cohabitation by according equal rights to cohabiting couples, the government should be publicising the individual, domestic and societal advantages of couples choosing to marry.

 

July 2021