News Article

Civil partnerships and cohabitants rights

Civil partnerships and cohabitants rights are today presented as a single issue in light of the Court of Appeal judgment upon the Judicial Review by Steinfield and Keidan but Cheshire family solicitors Stonehewer Moss caution against making an assumption that the law will change to effectively equalise married and unmarried couples rights. Accredited family law panel solicitor Michael Brennan believes the publicity surrounding the case and the encouraging noises made by the appeal judges concerning rights to privacy and a family life tend to reinforce the old wives tale that old common law wives exist and have rights to property akin to divorce rights of married couples simply by reason of living together. Michael says,”From a human rights perspective, the appeal judges may have a point but proportionality plays a key role and I am not sure even that olive branch to this couple is realistic. The law has a status that grants a person in a steady relationship  all the advantages and duties of a civil partner, marriage. Relying on rather fay arguments about paternalistic models when gay people celebrated the grant of equal rights to marry only recently, seems absurd and certainly disproportionate for a penny of tax payers money to be spent considering; the number of angels dancing on the head of a needle seems sensible in comparison. That said, heterosexual cohabitants must follow the civil partnership procedure if the law is subsequently changed arising from the planned appeal to the Supreme Court and that could only happen once the terms of a successful appeal were translated into statute, or at least regulations,  by Parliament. Cohabitants will still then have no additional rights than any other citizen by virtue of living with someone without an appropriate certificate issued by a registrar. A cohabitation law without the need for a ceremony would require a statute itself with the controversy about it being the imposition and judgment of the arbitrary date at which extra rights in property are achieved. Until the laws change in clear terms a solicitor can advise you really do exist, treat any comments by friends or social media with extreme caution. I still get a slightly scornful look from some people who are unmarried when I tell them these simple facts, as if they know better that their relationship has somehow generated rights for themselves the normal law does not make obvious. They are in a fools paradise. In the unlikely event at separation that they can prove equitable rights, they will have had to employ significantly more expensive lawyers than I am to prove their case and should not come to me asking for no win no fee. Be prepared to spend more than your annual income. Far better to enter a living together agreement based in fact and drafted by a solicitor or takes your chances with marriage if you want some special rights.”

Civil partnerships and cohabitants rights are not the same and will not be if Supreme Court case succeeds. Civil partners are more or less the same as married couples in the courts at separation. But you need to go through the ceremony.

For advice negotiation and representation in disputes with the person you lived with please call 01606 872200 e mail visit


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Stonehewer Moss Solicitors, Citadel House, Solvay Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 4DP

Solicitors in Northwich covering Chester, Crewe, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Middlewich, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Warrington, Winsford, and across Cheshire.

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