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Marriage vs cohabitation in the Telegraph

There’s been a lot of discussion about introducing cohabitation rights for unmarried couples this week.

Now it appears as though some people are wondering whether marriage is worth the bother.

One such person is Telegraph journalist Radhika Sanghani, who wondered in a very interesting article if there is really any point to marriage. Something I was happy to talk to her about.

Surely, she asks, if cohabitation rights are introduced, there will no longer be an incentive to get married for people who don’t wish to go through a lavish ceremony?

Not so fast.

If such laws were introduced, it wouldn’t equate the remits of divorce with cohabitation.

In other words, you wouldn’t be able to get a divorce-style settlement which meets needs. The best would be some sort of redress for economic imbalance.

Marriage is the gold standard, I told her, and there is no question it is financially safer.

Lots of couples tend to cohabit and they don’t realise that cohabitation doesn’t create a legal relationship in the same way marriage does.

That being said, I cautioned against marrying too young.

In my experience people change the most between 20 and 30 in terms of personality, career and maturity. People who get married very young may be destined for divorce because of changes in their partner that they no longer find attractive.

Read the full article here.

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  1. Gentlergiant says:

    There are many people who have positive and painful proof that marriage is not financially safer. It is, in fact, a financial disaster for some.

  2. Luke says:

    “Lots of couples tend to cohabit and they don’t realise that cohabitation doesn’t create a legal relationship in the same way marriage does.”

    Actually I think most cohabiting couples know EXACTLY what marriage does – and the reluctance to be in such a legal relationship is the reason cohabiting is now so popular – I will accept that due to the fact that no effort is put into publicising it that a minority of less ‘switched on’ cohabiting couples are ignorant of the legal difference that marriage has – but I would suggest this minority is getting smaller by the day and besides, the answer is to publicise the facts, not create more laws to ‘hem in’ and cut off the freedom of cohabiting couples to choose.

  3. JamesB says:

    Can we have small medium and large marriage types, like fries in McDonald’s. Maybe a supersize version also.

    Co-habitation the lowest type that no one would go for but be in by default. Medium type would be with pre nups. Large type without pre nups and without divorce on demand. Supersize for the ultra or religious orthodox people with fault based financial settlements.

    I would go for a medium, reasonable one please. As would most people, making co hab laws less of an issue. They are only an issue now as marriage and divorce laws are so unfair. Change to like this and more people would marry and stay married and be happily inbolved more in their childrens lives.

  4. JamesB says:

    In Israel they have a similar choice of marriage. I would be interested in you writing an article on that Marilyn.

    I am writing both as a man and as a father of daughters. Males and females, rather than just females (as per the current law) need to be fairly protected, if you do that right then all this talk of doing it for the children becomes surplus and can be seen for what it is a red herring to stitch up the bloke.

  5. JamesB says:

    You hooked me in there again Marilyn. I am glad it is you that did so though ;-).

  6. JamesB says:

    I continue to like reading and writing on your blog site after years of reading and posting on it.

  7. JamesB says:

    The fleecing of the bloke in the name of the children as happens with the existing divorce process in this country is distasteful and bad. It does need reform. Co hab law by itself isnt the answer though as marriage should be encouraged as a good thing and if you put in co hab law by itself then fewer will get married. As part of an overal reform to get more married and fairer law as perhaps the reforms I suggest above would do, then fine.

  8. JamesB says:

    P.s. I am in my second marriage. Hoping will last.

  9. JamesB says:

    People wouldn’t need to know what type of marriage you have you just say you are married as you either are or you are not, the problem we have currently is that you have grounds of ancillary relief which are not dependent upon the wedding vows and therefore their is a contradiction between the marriage vows and what it is. That is the main issue that needs rectifying, having marriage vows that mean nothing, they should mean something. You should be able to take A, B, C, or D marriage vows and the contract and associated divorce or lack of it be known at that time, that way it does what it says on the tin.

    As it is, you both say til death us do part then you get stitched up with a dodgy divorce petition (like dodgy dossier on Iraq) a few years later with conduct irrelevant on divorce settlement and not knowing what went wrong and not what you thought you would get when you got married. That is not fair and is undermining marriage and needs to change. I agree with you both that the situation needs to change for the good of society, although I don’t want my daughters to be stitched up by not getting married in the same way as I don’t want my son to be stitched up by getting married, there should be fairer choices as I have gone through and you two have also as there are issues with the current law.

    I agree that cohabitation offers insufficient protection for women and also add that marriage offers insufficient protection for men. As the judge and you two said and I agree this subject needs sorting out please. I think the Scots are doing better than England and Wales on this, as are Israel.

  10. JamesB says:

    To summarise my position, people should be able to marry without being stitched-up, then the co-habitation issue goes away and society is better, with more married people, which is a good thing as I believe in marriage.

  11. John Bolch on the long running problem of cohabitants’ rights - Marilyn Stowe Blog says:

    […] rights’. This is an issue that causes strong feelings – see, for example, Marilyn’s post here last Friday. Much of the strong feeling against cohabitants’ rights is, I think, due to a […]

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