Landmark Supreme Court ruling – rights for unmarried couples
30 August 2018 by James Bird
A landmark Supreme Court ruling has been handed down today which has far-reaching implications for unmarried couples throughout the country. In it, an unmarried mother has been granted access to a Widowed Parent’s Allowance following the death of her partner in 2014. They had been together for 23 years and had had four children but were never married.
Until now the Widowed Parent’s Allowance – the purpose of which is to help children – could only be claimed by a surviving partner who was either married or in a civil partnership. The Supreme Court has decided that this stipulation unfairly discriminates against surviving unmarried partners and their children and that it is incompatible with their rights under the Human Rights Act. The government is now being encouraged to change the law and the Department for Work and Pensions has stated that they will consider the Court’s ruling carefully.
There are 3.3 million cohabiting couples living in the United Kingdom, 1.2 million of which have children. A change in the law would obviously have huge implications for these families allowing surviving cohabitees to successfully claim the Widowed Parent’s Allowance if their partner were to die.
One further thought – rulings such as the one made today bring into sharp relief the need for unmarried couples, with or without children, to make Wills setting out what should happen to their assets in the event of their death. The rules around intestacy are now nearly 100 years old and don’t take into account modern family life – with no provision for unmarried couples within them.
If you are in a cohabiting couple; with or without children and haven’t made your Will, then our Wills, Life Planning and Probate team would be happy to help. Please call us on 01206 700113 or email [email protected]