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A Landmark Court Case Changes The Rights For Parents In A Cohabiting Relationship


A New Landmark Court Case Rules In Favour Of A Mother In A Cohabiting Relationship

A recent landmark case concluded that parents who are in a cohabiting relationship are now expected to receive the same bereavement benefits as parents that are married.

The mother-of-four, Siobhan McLaughin, was denied a lump sum bereavement payment of £2,000 and a weekly widowed parent allowance after her partner of 23 years, John Adams, passed away. This was due to them being in a cohabiting relationship rather than a marriage.

After her partner had died, Ms McLaughlin was told that Mr Adams had paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify her for Widowed Parent’s Allowance. This allowance meant that she would be given an extra £117 a week. However, she was later informed that she wasn’t entitled to the allowance as it was only entitled to those who had been married or in a civil partnership before death.

Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK with 3.3 million families, increasing by 2.2 million since 1996, but until this ruling occurred parents in a cohabiting relationship didn’t have a lot of rights compared to parents in a marriage.

Taking The Case To Court

Ms McLaughlin decided to launch a High Court challenge that would go against the current rights that were set for parents in a cohabiting relationship. Despite initially winning the case, when the decision was later challenged at the High Court on the grounds of unlawful discrimination basted on marital status, the ruling was overturned. Ms McLaughlin then forwarded the case to the Supreme Court where they decided to overturn that earlier decision. The ruling means that parents in a cohabiting relationship will be able to apply for payments if one of them was to die.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information regarding the rights of a cohabiting relationship following the case.