Written evidence from Mr Gerard Davies, GSL Davies [HAB0258]
• Marriage differentiates between people who just share accommodation and those in a committed long-term relationship. Co-habitation does not. It is impossible to determine the status of co-habitees
• Co habitees can have all the rights they want through other legal means such as a will or a contract
• Marriage is an incredibly successful institution. Children brought up by married parents are up to five times more likely to avoid mental health services, the criminal justice system and, more importantly, to thrive. The Government should be talking up the easily proven benefits of marriage
• Why is another relationship status necessary? The present system has the beauty of simplicity. Couples are either married or not. This proposal will, like all extra layers of legislation, just cause confusion and disruption
• Do you know that married people are less likely to smoke, use drugs and have better mental and physical health? It’s as simple as that
• Couples who marry promise a lifetime commitment to each other. They know what they are doing and why they are doing it. This is beneficial to them and society and the law rightly acknowledges this by making special status for the death of a spouse. Conversely, co-habitees have knowingly not made that commitment so know that is not necessarily a life time commitment. It’s their choice
• The societal cost of family breakdown is upwards of £50 billion a year. Cohabiting couples are 5 times more likely to split up than married couples. For society’s sake, marriage should be encouraged and rewarded
• Do you know that more than 50% of children of co-habiting couples will experience their parents splitting up before they are 5? Conversely only 15% of married couples do. This statistic is stark. And, as I said earlier, the children of co-habiting couples are up to 5 times more likely to have mental health problems, experience substance mis-use, get into trouble with the law, be unemployed, have no or low paid work and, crucially, be unable to maintain long term relationships when they are adults
• Couples who marry are taking a risk and, if the marriage fails, may lose financially and in other ways for the rest of their lives. Why should they not be rewarded for taking that risk, by giving them a special status, when it would be much easier not marry?
In short, marriage should be encouraged and promoted for the couple, their children and society. Giving equal rights to co-habitees will undermine this proven, beneficial set-up of marriage.