On Monday 27 November, Resolution hosted the launch of their Vision for Family Justice in Parliament.

The Vision, which sets out Resolution's five key recommendations to improve family law/the family justice system, will provide a blueprint for Resolution's campaigning activity ahead of the next general election and beyond. The Parliamentary launch focused on Resolution's primary aspiration: to reform the law on cohabitation.

Jo Edwards, Chair of Resolution's Family Law Reform Committee and Head of Family at Forsters, spoke at the launch about Resolution's objective to provide a safety net for cohabiting couples on relationship breakdown or the death of their partner. Resolution's polling ahead of its annual Awareness Week, which ran from 27 November to 1 December, found that 74% of cohabitees agree that 'the current laws surrounding cohabitation are unfit for today's modern society'. It also showed that 59% of the population believe cohabiting couples should have better legal protection (with a further 13% being undecided, rather than opposed).

The dramatic increase in cohabiting couples in the UK (over a 25-year period to 2021 there was a 144% increase, and cohabiting couples now represent around 1 in 5 families), makes unmarried couples the fastest growing relationship type in the UK. It was found in Resolution's polling that 83% of the population expect these numbers to increase in the next decade. This huge growth in the numbers, coupled with people believing they are automatically protected as common law spouses (as Resolution's polling showed), makes the lack of legal protection for cohabiting couples particularly concerning.

At the Parliamentary launch, both Grant Cameron (current Resolution National Chair) and Jo Edwards emphasised the need for cohabitation reform and the risk of England and Wales remaining a "curious outlier" if there is failure to implement change. She called for Parliamentarians and officials to work with Resolution to change the law on cohabitation to fit the needs of modern families.

Emily Thornberry, Shadow Attorney General, followed Jo Edwards in championing the need for cohabitation reform, acknowledging that the law as it stands is "extraordinarily unfair". Married couples and civil partners are entitled to a fair and equitable settlement, but the law leaves no such protection for cohabitees. She emphasised that women are often, but not exclusively, the ones left disadvantaged at the end of a cohabiting relationship.

Ms Thornberry confirmed the Labour Party's commitment to reforming the law for cohabiting couples. She expressed a desire to make this a cross-party initiative, in order to achieve change.

Siobhan Baillie, MP for Stroud, closed the speeches by committing to cross-party support for cohabitation reform, stating that she "warmly welcomes working together". She concluded that there is plenty of evidence to support reform.

Forsters' Family team supports Resolution's reaffirmed commitment to cohabitation reform.

To read articles on the five key recommendations in Resolution's Vision for Family Justice, see here:

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