Another step forward for change

For regular followers of our blog, you may have noticed a string of stories relating to cases of unmarried couples losing out, simply because they haven’t tied the knot.

We wrote about law changes relating to cohabitation and inheritance pay-outs for unmarried partners . The latest news story concerns Siobhan McLaughlin, who has just won her battle in the Supreme Court to allow her to claim a Widowed Parent’s Allowance – even though she wasn’t married.

Ms McLaughlin had four children with her partner of more than 25 years. Her partner passed away, and, in the eyes of the law, left McLaughlin with insufficient recompense just because she was not married to him. McLaughlin argued that the money provided by the Widowed Parent’s Allowance would have been useful to her family as she was now the sole breadwinner and had to keep two jobs to make ends meet.

In a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, McLaughlin was awarded the payment after the legislation was deemed incompatible with human rights law. It was deemed that the law precluded any entitlement to the Allowance by a surviving unmarried partner.

It is now thought that may more people could come forward to apply for similar payments. However, if this applies to you, here are the things you need to consider.

Firstly, the Allowance can only be claimed by a surviving partner if they are married to or in a civil partnership with the deceased. The Supreme Court acknowledges that this is potentially to the detriment of children particularly, but any of the 3.3 million cohabiting couples living in the UK today who are not married. Of those 3.3 million, around 1.2 million have children.

The Supreme Court cannot change the law, but they can pile on the pressure as there is a clear incompatibility with Human Rights Law.

If you would like some advice relating to your family situation, writing a will or caring for children, contact Downs Solicitors today to see how we can help.