Written evidence from Jeanette Dobson [HAB0261]


There is no need to create another legally defined  relationship. People in cohabiting relationships have the right to marry. If they marry they then enjoy all the rights of married couples. To confer these rights to co-habitees will undermine the institution of marriage itself. Marriage is predicated on the permanence of the union but cohabitation is predicated on a degree of provisionality.


Marriage is the bedrock institution of the state and which the stability of the state flows. Studies have shown that children do best with two married parents and studies have also shown that physical and mental health is best for the parties in marriage. Married families on the whole are also much less likely to be in poverty. Co-habitees are able to enter into legal agreements such as wills and buying property etc. There is no need to extend the rights of marriage to a group who for whatever reason eschew the married state. Then there are of course difficulties of defining a co-habiting families temporary relationships by their nature are hard to define – how long will the co-habitation have to last? For serial co-habitees the situation could become exceedingly complex. Though I believe civil partnerships should not have been instituted they are already in existence then that legal remedy is open to co-habitees.


In my view all that giving rights to co-habitees will do will to further downgrade marriage to the detriment of society as a whole. There are so many benefits to the married couples themselves and particularly to their children, such as less involvement in crime, greater educational outcomes and better mental health as well as more stable relationships in the future. When the best is available to all why try to bolster an inadequate alternative. If stable ,happy families are your goal then don't bring in legislation that will damage the gold standard.


July 2021