Written evidence from Miss Juliet Chaplin [HAB0227]


I am a Christian, the daughter of a couple who were happily married for 43 years until my mother’s death, so I know the value of a stable home.  While I am single, I have many friends who are happily married and others who have had divorces, so I have seen the results of relationship breakdown, particularly where there are dependent children.

Marriage is an arrangement which has existed for many centuries.  In English law it presupposes a contract between two people (until a few years ago it had to be between a man and a woman) who committed to each other until the death of one.  Most couples would hope to have children and indeed the family unit is very important in society.

It has been found, on the whole, that couples who make and honour such a commitment make a stable home and have better physical and mental health than couples who are living together without such a commitment.  

Couples wishing to commit to each other should be encouraged to marry.  Marriage confers a status and certain advantages, for example in tax matters.  (Of course Christian marriage does all this and more).  Civil partnerships do not demand the same level of commitment but receive some of the same advantages.

Couples who choose to live together but not to enter into either marriage or civil partnership should not expect those advantages.  If they want those advantages then it is easy enough for them to marry or enter into a civil partnership.   It has been found that unmarried couples living together are more likely to separate, with ensuing upheaval and family breakdown, which costs the public purse about £50 bn each year. 

To give legal rights to cohabiting couples would serve to undermine marriage and would cause confusion.   What about housemates/flatmates and lodgers?   Marriage makes a clear distinction between a couple committed to each other and a pair who simply share a residence.   Cohabiting couples who are not married can in any case make certain arrangements such as by making Wills.  They do not need a separate legal status.


July 2021