Being in a relationship with the end (or beginning?) goal of marriage is becoming quite rare.
When it comes to long term relationships very few people feel it is necessary to get married. Or at times they are aiming for it but never quite get there with all the busyness of life.
It is quite common for couples to live together for many years before getting married or continue to live together without ever getting married or having the relationship legally recognised through civil partnership.
However, no matter how long the relationship has lasted or if children are involved, the rights of unmarried cohabiting couples have been limited.
The Law Commission published a report in 2007 recommending that the laws affecting cohabiting couples be changed, specifically in terms of being able to claim for financial support after separation or death. However, in 2011 the Government declared that this would not be taken forward.
It is unfortunate as it often children who get an especially raw deal.
The Good News
The good news is that change is afoot.
The Department of Work and Pensions have acknowledged this support is life-saving for these families and have announced that bereavement support will be extended to cohabiting couples with children.
The Government has proposed that Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support payments will be available to the surviving cohabiting partners provided they were living together until the date of death and have dependent children.
This change is scheduled to come into effect next spring and will be applicable from 30 August 2018 so thousands of families will be able to receive backdated payments in lump sums. This is the date the Supreme Court ordered the Government to treat unmarried and married couples equally.
However, some charities (CPAG, WAY and Childhood Bereavement Network) are imploring the Government that backdated bereavement support payments should begin from 6 April 2017, which is the date these payments were introduced. This would allow thousands more families to benefit.
What to do
If you are currently in a cohabiting relationship, it is a relief that this policy is now being brought into effect for future. While it is comforting to know this support will now be available, it is always a good idea to have put some plans in place before something happens. We recommend that Wills be made out and necessary arrangements are discussed and written down.
Having everyone involved on the same page is the best way to reduce the stressfulness of what will inevitably be a trying situation.
And if you are already in this challenging situation of having suffered the loss of your partner recently or in the last 3 – 4 years, it’s best not to wait for the policy change to officially come into effect.
Put your claim in now to ensure it is on file by contacting the Bereavement Service Helpline on 0800 791 0469.
And if you need any help, we’re only a call away.