From the Scotsman.
A LANDMARK Supreme Court ruling, in which a man has been ordered to pay his former partner compensation after they separated, could open the doors for thousands of claims from unmarried couples who split up, a family lawyer has claimed.
In yesterday’s judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that Angus Grant should pay Jessamine Gow £39,500 after the cohabiting pensioners’ relationship ended.
The right to compensation for unmarried couples became available under section 8 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, but had not been tested in the Supreme Court until yesterday.
[The ruling] does create a precedent that could allow unmarried couples to seek financial compensation similar to that available to divorcing couples, but without the assumption of an equal division of assets.
Last night, a family law expert warned that it could affect thousands of couples and lead to a rush for “cohabitation agreements” – a kind of pre-nuptial for the unmarried – from people planning to move in together.
[…]Robert Wright, professor of economics at Strathclyde University, said: “It will make people rethink cohabitation, rethink marriage. It might lead to people waiting longer, so we could see less cohabitation, less marriage and less fertility.”
Are people responsible for the damage caused by their own free decisions? According to the court, they are not.
Dina sent me this UK Daily Mail article by Melanie Phillips, which comments on this story.
The relentless war against the family in Britain continues in the highest court of the land. Baroness Hale, the veteran ‘lifestyle choice’ radical who, as a member of the UK Supreme Court, is the country’s top female judge, has called for cohabiting couples to be given more legal rights.
[…]For sure, cohabitation often results in hardship, very much more so indeed than marriage. Cohabitation breaks down far more frequently than marriage, and even more so after the birth of any children. Cohabitation is therefore one of the most significant factors behind Britain’s catastrophic and galloping phenomenon of mass fatherlessness, the single most important cause of so much misery and harm for both children and adults, and the major cause in turn of unquantifiable damage to society.
If people want to avoid the hardship they very understandably fear will result from the absence of legal protection under cohabitation, they can choose to get married. That’s what marriage is for. To bestow this legal protection upon cohabitation is to turn the ratchet of family breakdown another notch. First you undermine marriage by removing the stigma of ‘living together’, illegitimacy and unmarried motherhood; then you turn the ratchet by hymning the sanctity of ‘lifestyle choice’ and the social acceptability of cohabitation as an alternative to marriage; then you turn it again by bestowing the benefits of marriage upon un-marriage, thus incentivising a socially destructive phenomenon which will create yet more misery and harm.
Lady Hale’s call is not for justice in family life but gross injustice. It is yet another boost to our rights-without-responsibilities, something-for-nothing, me-first culture which has already advanced the destruction of family life in Britain, created regional deserts of social and moral breakdown and made victims out of the most vulnerable.
My biggest concern about this is the message that it sends to men who are already turning away from the responsibilities of marriage. Men already have to contend with no-fault divorce, a massive repression, etc. which causes them to doubt the reasonableness of marriage at this time. This ruling will push them even further away from relationships with women, by making even cohabitation threatening financially. I don’t think that the judge in this case realizes the incentives that are being created by this decision. When men see that relationships with women that go beyond just sex are becoming more costly and risky, they will stop doing that. Why take the risk of being cleaned out financially? My prediction is that this short-sighted ruling will push men and women further apart, so that sex without any structured relationship becomes the norm, and children have even less of a stable environment in which to grow up.
People are more inclined these to complain that men need to “man up” and get married, but it is important to consider what the incentives are for men. Are we doing a good job of educating men with practical skills, encouraging job creators with lower taxes and less regulation, and lowering the legal risks of marriage for men? Are we encouraging women to understand men and to respect them, which is the main thing that men are looking for in a marriage? Are we encouraging women to be chaste so that men are encouraged to perform at a higher level to earn a woman’s commitment to him in marriage? If we are not giving men incentives to marry – or even to cohabitate – then we mustn’t be surprised when men decide that other things are more rewarding than marriage.