Cohabiting Couples and Pensions
Rights for unmarried couples
John Pratley, partner at Simpson Millar LLP incorporating Foster and Partners, writes about the pension rights when cohabiting couples separate.
Giving unmarried couples the same rights as married couples, depends on your point of view. People in unmarried relationships do get some protection from the law, but less than most people would think, and I would say they probably need more. But, they certainly need to be made aware of the fact that they do not have the same rights as married couples, regardless of how long they have been together.
Pensions and unmarried couples
There’s a particular point about pensions which isn’t often talked about, but it causes real hardship and unfairness for many people.
In a long relationship one partner will often be working more whilst the other is focusing more on children and the family. The partner who is working is likely to build up a better pension, which they expect to live on in retirement years.
That’s fine if they stay together but what if they decide to separate?
A divorcing couple can share their pension provision out between them, but an unmarried couple who separate can’t, even if they want to.
I believe that change in the law is needed here to make things fairer. Many unmarried, cohabiting couples are unaware of this and assume that that they have rights just as married couples do. You can imagine the anxiety and anger it can cause if a relationship breaks down and the person with no pension finds they have no entitlement to their partner’s pension.