Thursday, 26 July 2007

Government advisors say cohabitees should get same rights as married couples

Couples who live together should have the same property rights as married couples if they separate according to advice drawn up by Exeter University academics for the UK Ministry of Justice.

Doesn’t that sound grand (in a deep resonant voice) “Ministry of Justice”… It conjures up images of steely eyed agents bringing UK crime to it’s collective knees doesn’t it?

Back on topic - It seems the Law Commission may be coming up with something similar. The only trouble is the recommendations don’t seem to consider how long a couple must cohabit before the rights apply…

Firstly, if a cohabiting couple want the same rights as a married couple then they can get them right now, just by getting married. One of it’s main social functions for millennia has been to regulate property rights.

Secondly, if the 'marriage thing' does not float your boat, a couple could always enter into a legal contract, again something they could do right now. If the Government cared to they could arrange for a simple contractual registration scheme as an alternative to state marriages that could be treated the same as marriage legally.

If the Government really feels the need to interfere in peoples private relationships, that have nothing to do with Government, then most people would probably feel at least two years cohabitation would be a reasonable period before any such ‘rights’ kicked in.

Otherwise you could end up with someone staying for a few weeks at someone else’s flat and then claiming half the owner’s worldly goods.

Better still, if the Government just practiced the art of making a little less legislation - rather than continually trying to come up with a law for every possible combination of circumstances.

To paraphrase the saying - Make love, not legislation Gordon…

2 comments:

Lord Straf-Bollinger said...

Sounds very woolly round the edges, this one.

Phil A said...

Not sure if you mean the post, or the Government Advisers’ ‘advice’ ;-)

Certainly the ‘advice’ is - Given that it appears to be missing the key integral component of timeframe. It makes a massive difference.

If we are talking three years it is similar to the public perception of ‘common law’ marriage, that, if it ever did exist, seems to exist no longer.

On the other hand, if staying over a few nights, or giving out a key counts, then no one who owns a flat, will have a girl/boy friend move in ever again.