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Response to paper on cohabitation and relationship breakdown

Bridget Prentice

06 March 2008

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice has made a written ministerial statement announcing the government's response to the Law Commission's paper on the financial consequences of relationship breakdown for cohabiting couples.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Bridget Prentice):

Today we are announcing the government's response to the Law Commission's Paper on Cohabitation: the Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown.  

The Law Commission published their very thorough and high quality report on 31 July 2007. It makes recommendations to government on certain aspects of the law relating to cohabitants. It considers the financial consequences of cohabiting relationships ending either by separation or death. It follows two years of work by the Law Commission.

The report has been carefully considered and the government has decided it wishes to seek research findings on the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, which came into effect last year. This Act has provisions which are similar in many respects to those which the Commission recommends.

The Scottish Executive intend to undertake research to discover the cost of such a scheme and its efficacy in resolving the issues faced by cohabitants when their relationships end.

The government propose to await the outcome of this research and extrapolate from it the likely cost to this jurisdiction of bringing into effect the scheme proposed by the Law Commission and the likely benefits it will bring. For the time being, therefore, the government will take no further action.

The decision has been reached because of the need for government to obtain accurate estimates of the financial impact of any new legislation and the likelihood that we can obtain a view of financial impact by drawing on the Scottish experience of similar law reform.