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Pensions for cohabiting couples

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court unanimously allowed a widow’s appeal, declaring that the requirement in the 2009 Regulations that her deceased husband should have nominated her as a recipient of lifetime payments for his pensions should be disapplied. In doing so, the widow is entitled to receive a survivor’s pension under the terms of the deceased husband’s pension scheme.
The decision is likely to be  very significant for unmarried couples in the UK , placing them on a fairer footing. The Supreme Court’s decision should begin to cut a path, forging a way forward for further recognition of unmarried family rights, that needs to be generated from both the Courts, but by Parliament.

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the need for the current law regarding cohabitees’ rights to be amended. As the fastest growing family type in the UK, cohabiting couples and their children must be provided greater legal protection. As the law currently stands, they are left vulnerable on the death of a partner or at the point the relationship breaks down.

With an ageing population, rights to pensions are understandably a key area of concern. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court may well lead to pension schemes altering their policies to ensure that on death, there is protection for the surviving partner, irrespective of whether the couple are married or not.

Many couples elect not to wed, particularly older, previously divorced couples. The law on cohabitation does not afford these relationships the same rights in law as married couples.
If you would like to discuss issues relating to pensions, or as a cohabiting couple and how the law might affect you following the breakdown of your relationship, contact one of our expert family solicitors today on 01234 88977 for a free consultation. Serving Bedford, Northampton and the surrounding villages, our lawyers can help you with all your family law matters.

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