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Categories: Cases, Family Law, General News, Legal News, Legislation
Posted on: August 31, 2018 15:13

An unmarried mother has recently won a landmark case at the Supreme Court, in which the ruling stated she had been discriminated against when prevented from claiming Widowed Parent’s Allowance. Family lawyers, including ours at Freers Askew Bunting, have welcomed this breakthrough ruling as a step in the right direction for unmarried partners and cohabitation rights.

Once again, it has come to light the issue of cohabitation and the limited rights this type of coupling have, following the ruling last week that an unmarried mother of four children should now be entitled to claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance. This type of allowance is paid to assist families with the financial responsibilities of children, following a parental/guardian death.

Siobhan McLaughlin and her partner, John Adams, cohabited for 23 years until Mr Adams sadly passed away in January 2014. As the couple were unmarried, Ms McLaughlin was not entitled to the allowance that a married couple would have been. Her argument to the court was that this discrimination as her children’s needs were exactly the same, whether she and Mr Adams were married or not.

In this situation, the Supreme Court ruled that by withholding the allowance it would amount to discrimination against the children born out of wedlock.

A spokesperson said: ‘The logic behind the ruling is that the benefit should be payable in circumstances where the is a dependent child or children and it doesn’t – or shouldn’t – matter whether the parents were married or in a civil partnership or not.

Back in July 2017, a Cohabitation Rights Bill was introduced and first read in parliament, that would seek to enable fairer settlements between cohabitants. However, at present, a second hearing has not been scheduled.

The Family Law Group, Resolution has long called for the law to be reformed in this area and again highlights the often complex and widely misunderstood legal rights of unmarried couples when a partner dies or they separate.

Our teams on Borough Road and Baker street in Middlesbrough, are specialists in family law and financial disputes. To make an appointment or to speak to one of our solicitors over the phone, please call 01642 252555 (Borough Road) or 01642 244666 (Baker Street).

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