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Written evidence from David Boswell [HAB0363]

I am writing to you to provide a response to the call to evidence regarding ‘The Rights of Cohabiting Partners’.  I am responding as an individual, as a married man and as someone who cares about the social cohesion of our country and in particular the institution of marriage.

In response to your question as to whether cohabiting couples require the same legal protections/privileges as married couples:

A change in the law would create a completely unnecessary additional legal relationship.  Couples can currently choose to get married or not .  If there is any confusion in regards to the benefits of getting married then I recommend that the government considers a nationwide campaign in order to raise the profile and advertise the benefits amongst the general public.  Why use public funds to create this additional legal relationship, create confusion and undermine marriage when the money could instead promote marriage and bring its benefits to a wider range of couples and families?  This would have the additional consequence of promoting more permanent and secure relationships built on commitment thereby reducing the drain on society caused by increasing rates of family breakdown.  I am thinking in particular of the high proportion of absent fathers, the preventable situations of single parenting and the lack of responsibility or overburdened lifestyles respectively that this can foster.

The promise to love, care and support a spouse until death is the reason why the law makes automatic provision for the death of a spouse.  The short term commitment of cohabiting should not in my view enable the same automatic provisions.  If the individuals want to make provision in the form of inheritance etc they can choose to arrange this by writing a will.

Why is marriage worth promoting in this manner?

Since we often make the point that our children are the future, we should perhaps put their mental wellbeing and promote greater permanence of home life to give them the best start.  Parents separating before their child has reached the age of 5 years old is far greater amongst cohabiting couples compared to married couples.  To have 50% of cohabiting parents split up before their child is 5 years old causes unquantifiable hurt and pain to the children involved and while the rate of 15% is still too high for married couples it is noticeably lower and the benefits to the children of a more stable home life are again unquantifiable but surely a worthwhile benefit for society.

I hope that you consider these points and I look forward to a future promotional drive from the government  to promote marriage and stable families in our society.  Any further investigation into the need to acknowledge cohabiting couples in UK law beyond current housing contracts etc should be ceased.

 

July 2021

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