Friday, November 27, 2009

Some Serious Thoughts on Cohabitation

The following comes from Marilyn Stowe, who practices family law in England.  Yes, the subject directly concerns English law but I feel the broader argument applies as well to Indiana.  Indiana protects the children of cohabitating couples but not their property.

There are literally thousands of women (if the number I see in my office is multiplied across the country) materially disadvantaged by a breakdown in their relationships (and which also impacts on their children) who, unlike Baroness Deech, do not have her powerful brain, nor her opportunities in life. They do not enjoy a life of luxury and privilege, whether they live with their partner or not.
These women are literally left homeless, without income, capital or pension. They may have lived with their partner for the last 30 years. They may have raised children who have grown up and moved away. Or the relationship may be shorter and the children may still be living at home. Their partner may have all the income and capital in the family locked up in his own name. And the woman discovers that she can be traded in for another, for far less than even the cost of a cheap second hand car. She can be traded in for nothing at all.
These women have no financial remedy to save them from the economic loss they sustained as a consequence of the cohabitation, and they and their innocent children are frequently left to fall back onto the State – the very thing Baroness Deech protests that she seeks to stop. Why should that be? Why should the other partner simply walk away with no obligation at all having had the entire financial benefit of the relationship for all the years beforehand? Why should her contribution as a homemaker count for nothing as a cohabitant – when exactly the same contribution counts as equality with the breadwinner on divorce?

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