33 2 mins 15 yrs

marriage.gifThe issue that seems to concern our legal profession most is that couples who are living together should have more legal rights, according to a report from the Law Commission. It says the current law is "unjust" and the 2.2m co-habiting couples in England and Wales should have more protection if they split up. The report says the majority of couples who live together wrongly believe they are protected by what is known as "common law" marriage. But it has denied its proposals will undermine marriage.

Well it would say that, wouldn’t it? If people want to live together that’s fine. If people want the legal "protection" that marriage affords, then there is a very simple thing to do – get married. This interfering by lawyers is aimed more at feathering their own nests since once the enhanced "protection" is given to unmarried couples then – hey presto – you’re going to need lawyers to enforce it, aren’t you? £££££’s in their eyes folks. Furthermore, I think that what the issue the Law Commission SHOULD be looking at is how easy is it nowadays for a married couple to separate. I think separation should really be the last resort but sadly for so many it is the first. For me, the institution of marriage is of central importance to our society and I guess that is why it is being subverted and attacked on all fronts – with the Law Commission leading this weeks assault on it. Lawyers – who would trust them? Ahem…

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  1. To me there is a choice, not a problem. People can get married and accept the commitment that goes with marriage or they can please themselves and have no responsibilities in that area. What people should not be able to do is to refuse the commitment but demand any advantage flowing from making that commitment. It is simple really.

  2. To me this just stinks of yet another way for women to get their grasping hands around assets they haven’t earned i.e. the house, the car, the bank accounts etc.

  3. Sigh. You are ignoring the powerful wedding cake lobby which has a far greater interest in more marriages (not to mention food processing companies which would see profits rise as orders for receptions came in).

    In my humble opinion (and I have only a few humble ones) if you don’t get married you have chosen not to particpate in the legal protections it brings.

  4. In my humble opinion (and I have only a few humble ones) if you don’t get married you have chosen not to participate in the legal protections it brings.

    I duno mahons, im not sure its quite fair that a couple could live together for decades and yet have no inheritance rights. Marriage is not for everyone

  5. Kloot: Marriage surely isn’t for everyone. But one can not pick and chose from the law as if it is a menu. If they opt out of the responsibility they opt out of the protections.

    A couple such as you suggest could make private arrangements (a will) regarding inheritance.

  6. I’m with Barricade on this one. It just stinks of lawyers looking to drum up new business so the woman can clean up when she maxs out the guys credit cards. Funny how women never look to get half the debt when a marriage goes sour!

    p.s. I’ve never been married and I’m not co-habiting 😉

    And Kloot an unmarried partner may have no inheritance rights but that is easily sidestepped. Its called a will!! Even married couples are advised to have them to mitigate legal wranglings in the event of death.

  7. When I was young – many, many years ago – I co-habited with three other young men in a 2 bedroom flat.

    Two questions.

    1 – does that make me homosexual in the eyes of the law?

    2 – can I get alimony? (or any other sort of mony)

  8. David,

    As you know already, I co-habit; and have done so very happily for very many years.

    Kerri and I have sorted out all the legal arrangements re inheritance, property, children etc etc. It’s a very easy thing to do and we did it when we recognised that we wanted to live together permanently, but that neither of us wanted a legal marriage.

    Neither of us believes that those who choose to co-habit should be covered by the same laws as those who choose to marry. They are separate arrangements and should be regarded as such.

    It’s all about choice. The problem is we live in a world in which people demand the right to make their own choices—but also want the safety net of being covered by catch-all laws.

    Best wishes,


  9. Interesting how no-one has come on here to defend and approve the proposals – although Kloot seems to be tepidly agreeing with them.

    I agree with Alex this is about choice. Individuals have a choice to regard their relationships as a private matter or to have them legally recognised. If they keep it private then the state should have no business intervening when the relationship ends.

  10. As the father of a daughter ‘co-habiting – no cildren’, I support the contention that there should be more protection for such. There is no prospect that the rights of ‘married’ would be changed. What’s your problem?

  11. Alan

    Your daughter and her partner have made a choice not to have their relationship given a legal status. Why should the law intervene if the relationship ends. If your daughter wants to have access to the law to determine a financial settlement if the relationship ends the she has a simple remedy – marry the man , and she can then seek financial recompense as part of the legal divorce.

    I agree with you that the rights of married couples would not be changed by these proposals but that for me is not the issue. It is the encroachment by the state into relationships that are none of the state’s business that is wrong.

  12. A few Alan – there would be issues of intent (did they co-habitate to share all assets, some or none). Second, what do you do when the co-habitation is with more than one person, and not necessarily at one time. For instance, some male has three girlfriends who live with him during a one year period – are they each entitled to a pro-rated share of his assets? Or is it measured in the happiness they provide, or in the length of time they are there?

    And what type of rights are we talking about? palimony? When does it begin/end, how is it measured? Does a non-biological co-habitant have any rights or duties under this system to the children of his co-habitant?

    If folks want to ignore certain of society’s conventions/laws, they are welcome to. But I don’t see where society in turn has to provide for them if they so choose.

  13. I just don’t get this. Surely there is no law preventing two people from signing a contract that says "if one of us moves out, then x y and z happens on n conditions etc etc"? Why don’t people do that instead of lobbying government to make a blanket law that affects everyone, whether they want it to or not?

  14. CL

    To be fair the proposals do say that couples can choose not to use the procedures, it would only apply if one of them had a grievance, but even then I disagree with it.

  15. Colm: If they had a contract and it was breached, let them seek a remedy in Court for breach of contract.

  16. CL,

    "Surely there is no law preventing two people from signing a contract that says "if one of us moves out, then x y and z happens on n conditions etc etc"? Why don’t people do that instead of lobbying government to make a blanket law that affects everyone, whether they want it to or not?"

    Indeed. And if government got out of the marriage business entirely that would solve the issue that some have with gay marriages etc.

  17. Mahons agreed.

    In fact you could say that these proposals amount effectively to a form of ‘forced marraige’…. just when the govt. was wondering how to deal with that problem within Muslim and HIndu communities.

  18. Most of you are looking at this situation from an ivory tower – yes of course couples going to co-habit should have a pre-nuptial agreement – but usually we’re talking here about couples in their early twenties – in love blah! blah! – I did mention these concerns when daughter approached me for a few thou for the house deposit (it was a few yers ago!) but you can only go so far down that road!
    I think the gov should provide some protection to both parties in these circumstances. I just don’t see the problem with that – but then most of you lot are scared of the inevitable secular, multi-cultural and liberal state that most of us want.

  19. Give me a break people. It’s real simple, if you want to reap the benefits and protection of the law, you get married. If you choose to shack up, you forfiet those benefits. Shacking up is not equal to marraige. Why would anyone want to open the playing field for unlimited, undocumented monetary claims on income based on sexual frecuency and a rental lease? Living together without formal commitment does not equate marriage. I would think most men would be against this as a matter of sexual freedom and pocketbook protection.

    If you choose to live with someone for decades without the protection of the legal system, I would hope that you’re intelligent and caring enough to provide for your partner with a will.

  20. Alan,

    The law does make very extensive provision for co-habiting couples, but it is something they have to go and sort out for themselves. It’s all fairly simple to do and, from my own experience, covers all bases.

    If you choose to get married then the legal package/protection is sort of inbuilt. If you choose not to get married (the choice Kerri and I made many years ago) then you can’t expect the package/protection that goes with marriage to be inbuilt into your own arrangements.

    There are reasons people choose not to marry; preferring, instead, to co-habit. But that said, there is nothing which prevents them from making their own very secure and water-tight legal arrangements.

    In other words, there is no need for the government to make provision for people who can, if they so decide, make provision for themselves.


  21. Alan: The government does provide for exactly what you want. It is called a civil marriage.

    Thus you can avoid any religious trappings, find a multicultural judge, and spend liberally on a reception.

  22. Mahons,

    How does a civil marriage differ from the other kind (no jokes please)? The marriage certificate in New York state is the same regardless of who officiates (and especially no Gabe Kaplan jokes).

  23. Alan Frost-McDonald: A civil ceremony (say before a judge) as opposed to a church ceremony (joke-free response). It is perfectly valid.

    Question: are you also "Alan" above?

  24. NO, I am Alan below (AKA the Great Satan).

    Seriously, Mr. Attorney, there is no difference between either ceremony in the eyes of the law. Therefore, there is only one kind of marriage, not two.

  25. Alan Frost-McDonald: Well whether using one name or three I think you are missing my point or I am not making it clear enough.

    I wasn’t claiming that the state recognized differnt kinds of marriages, just different kinds of ceremonies. A civil ceremony would allow for all the legal benefits of marriage without the objections of someone to a religious ceremony. Surely a simple license shouldn’t bother someone. After all, you need one to drive or to fish.

  26. Mahons,

    (NOTE TO SELF: Must stop monopolizing UK discussion board with USA legal arguments.)

    Your point was clear but not relevant. Until you raised the issue of civil/religious ceremonies the discussion was about marriage (any) versus state imposition of contractual obligations in lieu of marriage (any).

    P.S. I never met a hair I wouldn’t split.

  27. And, speaking of licenses, here in Monroe County on the shores of Lake Ontario, the marriage license office is the same one that dispenses fishing and hunting licenses. Ironic, eh?

  28. Alan: If you are also "Alan" above you raised an issue as to a secular, multicultural and liberal world that you favor. Split away.

    As for the Monroe County office, surely the community is well served by having marriage and hunting licenses in the same place, that way the clerk can caution those seeking them to avoid shooting another person during the duration of the license.

  29. Mahons,

    Let me make this perfectly clear: The other person with the same Christian name is not me. (Mind you, I do wonder if atheists can be said to have Christian names.)

    Now, as a lawyer, you should recognize that the other Alan’s closing words about secularism were merely dicta and of no legal significance.

    I think in this county folks often go for the trifecta and combine a wedding with a hunting/fishing honeymoon. The bride and groom were resplendent in fluorescent orange.

  30. Alan Frost-McDonald: He lacked your flair, but one must be sure. I feel perfectly comfortable responding to and creating dicta.

    My bottom line is that if unmarried coupls want to live together they are welcome to, but if they opt out of the system then they opt out. They should have the courage of their convictions.

  31. Mahons said –

    "My bottom line is that if unmarried coupls want to live together they are welcome to, but if they opt out of the system then they opt out. They should have the courage of their convictions."

    Perfectly stated Mahons.

  32. Daphne,

    Just in case you missed this from the "Moral Paralysis" thread:

    "The muslim moderates are in the minority according to worldwide polls that you conveniently ignore."

    Since this contention is central to your argument that "Islamists do speak for the majority of islam," could you please post a link to one of these polls?

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