Plans to give legal rights to cohabiting couples delayed

Plans to give cohabiting couples legal rights like married couples appear to have been put on a back burner while the Government waits to see the effects of similar laws in Scotland.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice has told the House of Commons that the Government will seek research on the impact of provisions in the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 which came into effect last year.

The Law Commission recently drew up proposals for England and Wales to allow cohabitants to be compensated for financial losses incurred if their relationship breaks down.

The Commission’s report was completed at the Government’s request, and it was expected that changes to the law would be sought.

Patricia Morgan, an independent academic who has written studies on cohabitation, said that the Government was mainly concerned with cost.

“Lawyers would love a cohabitation law,” she said, “but ministers are worried about the compensation boom it might unleash. There would be turmoil.”

A spokesperson for the think-tank Civitas said: “There is no need and no public demand for a cohabitation law. We have a perfectly good one already, called marriage.”