Labour to deem live-in couples as married

Oct 14, 2023

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has said (£) a Labour Government will give more financial rights to cohabiting couples who live together for a certain time.

Currently, if a married couple divorces, assets must be split ‘fairly’ between the two people. But if cohabitees split, there is no legal obligation for the assets to be shared.

Thornberry claimed that this means “women” are “ending up on the streets” after cohabitation breaks up. However, a man could equally be left without a house if the woman is the homeowner.

The clear solution to this is encouraging couples to marry. Unlike merely living together, it involves the man and the woman committing to share their lives and belongings.

Yet Thornberry claims that “no woman” should be “forced” to “get married” to “avoid ending up on the streets”. However, her plan would ‘force’ both men and women to do something they have specifically chosen not to do.

Thornberry cites countries like New Zealand, where if a couple splits after three years of cohabiting the property is shared between them, no matter who originally ‘owned’ the home.

If this became UK law, many people could find themselves having to give part of their property to someone they never wanted to give it to.

And giving the rights of marriage to cohabitees dilutes marriage’s significance, making it seem as if commitment is entirely optional. C4M previously called heterosexual civil partnerships ‘marriage-lite’, with the legal rights but not the lifelong commitment. But this new scheme would be ‘marriage super-lite’, conveying legal rights when the couple have not sought them.

The benefits of marriage, not least because of the commitment and promises involved, cannot be compared to any other relationship type.

At C4M, we oppose plans to further dilute marriage. We instead advocate that real marriage be promoted and given special privilege in society.