Cohabiting couples and pension entitlement

Cohabiting couples are the biggest growing family type in the UK. This has not always been the case, and is perhaps why the legislation that applies to married couples is very different to the legislation that applies to couples living together.

It is commonly accepted, but not may be commonly known, that cohabiting couples have far less protection under the law, if they separate and need to resolve financial matters with each other.

In view of this, Resolution, a membership organisation for family Justice professionals who are committed to a non-confrontational approach, to resolving family disputes, are using Awareness Week (27 November to 1 December) to focus on the need for cohabitation reform

One of the most difficult areas separating cohabiting couples face, is the tricky issue of pensions. If you are married, and separate, one of the orders the court can make as part of resolving financial matters in divorce proceedings, is a share in the pension of your spouse.

If you are a cohabiting partner, of either opposite or same sex, it may be possible for you to receive a survivor’s pension on your partners death, but only if certain and very strict criteria are met.

You are not entitled to make a claim on their pension, when you separate, which may result in one of you being financially penalised, by virtue of not being married.

It is thought that women are hardest affected by the lack of legislation surrounding cohabiting couples.

Therefore, it is often advisable for couples who are cohabiting to discuss their financial arrangements not only whilst they are living together but in the very unfortunate event of their separation. Whilst those discussions are difficult to navigate sometimes, they can help focus on what the financial landscape might look like for both, in the event of a separation.

Once those discussions have taken place, it is recommended that an agreement is drafted, reflecting the outcome of the discussions.

The experienced family team at Sintons are able to provide advice and information to one party or indeed both, should  a couple need to consider their financial circumstances both now and in the future.

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