A new private member’s bill would introduce cohabitation rights to England and Wales.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Marks introduced the bill, which aims to implement recommendations originally made by the Law Commission in 2007.
The Commission proposed limited financial rights for unmarried couples who had lived together for a particular period or had a child, rights which cohabiting couples could choose to opt out of if they wished.
Current cohabitation law is “… uncertain and expensive to apply,” they claimed, and “because it was not designed for cohabitants, often gives rise to results that are unjust.”
But in September 2011, the government said it had no plans to introduce cohabitation legislation within the current parliament.
The new private member’s bill would, if passed, apply to all couples who have lived together for a period of two years or more, or who have children, the Solicitors Journal reports. They would gain new rights, including the right to apply for a financial settlement within two years of the relationship ending, providing the person applying made a significant contribution.
Courts would be able to order similar settlements to those paid in divorce cases, such as lump sum payments, pension sharing and property sales.
Couples would only be allowed to opt out of the scheme if they have received independent legal advice.