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Debra Jackson
Family law solicitor at Jones Myers
5:31 AM 28th May 2020

Why Bereavement Damages For Cohabitees Is A Welcome Move

Plans by the government to reform laws to enable partners who have lived together for at least two years to claim bereavement damages is a undoubtedly a positive development.

The proposal follows a Court of Appeal decision in 2017 that the current law - which does not entitle an unmarried partner or cohabitee to make a claim - was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Currently set at £12,980, the statutory damages award is paid in certain circumstances following a death caused by someone else’s wrongful act or omission.

We have supported a long-standing campaign by Resolution (the association of family lawyers of which Jones Myers is a member) for the government to extend the rights enjoyed by married couples - or those in a civil partnership - to those who choose to live together.
While this new development recognises that society has changed dramatically since previous legislation from the 1970s, it is key to remember that nothing has yet changed to protect those couples should they choose to separate.

Setting up Living Together Agreements, known as cohabitation agreements, for those planning to move in together - is more important than ever.

If you are already living together, you can still draw up an agreement, recording how you would wish your finances to be dealt with should you separate. It is also important to prepare Wills providing for one another, so your estate is dealt with as you would wish.

Although you may be in a deeply committed relationship, and intend to spend your lives together, if you do split up from your partner, you should consult a qualified lawyer.
Unlike married couples or those in civil partnerships whose relationships break down, your entitlements will not necessarily enable you to share your partner’s pension, savings, or property.

If you are living with a partner or planning to do so an experienced lawyer will help you to understand your rights and entitlements.