The cost of cohabitation

Baroness Deech

On Friday 12th December the Lords gave a Second Reading to Lord Lester and Lord Marks’ Cohabitation Rights Bill that would give many marriage rights and responsibilities to those who cohabited for two years, or who have children.  I have blogged about this before (,, and so has Baroness Murphy I first wrote about this in 1978, and I remain of the view that it is a denial of freedom to turn cohabitation into marriage by statute. Research into the growth of cohabitation has shown quite clearly that it is not a happy situation for children because of the very high breakdown rates.

Two new arguments were put forward on Friday by supporters of the Bill. Lord Lester indicated that the government, ie the taxpayer, would be relieved of responsibility for the upkeep of the abandoned and indigent former cohabiting woman if her ex-partner were made to support her, which was his proposal. But since the Bill provides only for court orders relating to lump sums, property and pension-sharing, the poorer claimant would not be able to get ongoing payments, and it is likely that only the better off former cohabitants would be able to avail themselves of the financial settlement provisions.

The other argument was expressed by the former family judge, Lady Butler-Sloss. She described the alleged plight of some Muslim wives in this country, who have married under Sharia law, that is in ceremonies valid only in religious law, and not valid under English law; then if their husband divorces them (presumably again by Sharia law), they are not entitled to claim support under English divorce law because they are not “married”. If there were rights for former cohabitants they would be able to go to court and claim support from their ex-“husbands”. My answer was that 1. we should not make a very significant change to our law to suit people who have avoided our law (I mentioned the rule of law); and 2. it would be better to encourage all Muslims to marry legally by, for example, having a ceremony in the register office as well as the religious ceremony, thereby bringing themselves into line with English law and the protections it affords. The logical answer to Lady Butler-Sloss might be that Muslim religious marriages should be recognised as valid in English law, as are Quaker and Jewish religious marriages.

It is unlikely that the government will allow this Bill to become law, but the issue may well come back for debate. The Labour spokeswoman in the debate, Baroness Thornton, was in favour of it.



23 comments for “The cost of cohabitation

  1. 14/12/2014 at 7:11 pm

    Isn’t part of the problem with recognising Islamic marriages in law that Islam permits polygamy? Also, a man may divorce his wife by saying a sentence to her. Hardly an appropriate legal process for recognition in civil law.

    • Baroness Deech
      Baroness Deech
      15/12/2014 at 2:03 pm

      I agree. We should have one legal system for everyone.

      • Lord Blagger
        15/12/2014 at 3:55 pm

        Says the monopoly supplier determined to keep the cash rolling in.

        So when are you going to outlaw arbitration? An alternative legal system.

        Sharia courts?

        Beth din courts?

      • MilesJSD
        15/12/2014 at 7:18 pm

        But, baroness, the UK Judiciary and Legal-System is a ‘win-lose’, destructively-competitive adversary maze;
        in short metaphor, a dirty-smokescreen and cost-of-living-guzzling ‘black-hole’:
        ‘the winner takes it all – losers stand alone small’.

        Clarification, please.
        Kindly also note and maybe comment, please:
        If such a (“) One Legal System For Every-One (“) gained majority notional support,
        would it include, foundationally and first-resortly, the Friendly Method III of ‘win-win-win’, no-compromising, Cooperative Problem Solving ?
        [voluntarily but ‘mandatedly attempted’ prior to “Adversary Win-Lose” processes kicking-in ?]

        [“Method III”: see Dr Thomas Gordon 6-steps in “Leader/Parent/Teacher Effectiveness training”; also used by Robert Bolton in “People Skills”]]

        [Print out a Method III five-steps working-guidance, from not-for-profit ].

  2. MilesJSD
    15/12/2014 at 9:37 am

    Both “cohabitation” and “marriage” are tangled-webs;

    and twofoldly, even ‘slash-tribar-ly’ so, in each essential of
    (i) action-senses, on-the-ground; and
    (ii) verbal-meanings-from-books.

    Evidently ‘cohabitation’ is much worse for some,
    [than for others, possibly the ‘wealthiest’ ?]
    e.g. for some Muslim women you mention, ‘barbed-wire-like tangled webs’ domineer their past, present and probable-future.
    So, a much ‘greater’ contextual scrutiny is needed,
    including of “Relationships”,

    but most keyly it should get genericly down to
    “Needs & Sustainworthily-Affordable Hows thereto”.

    Such a ‘win-win-win’ foundation should long ago have been made almost a Constitutionally pre-requisite sine-qua-non.
    It has been suggested, and I subscribe this, that every participant in this Need, Problem or Issue, should
    ‘bodymindfully’ prepare theirself
    by at least skip-reading through serious human-wellbeing-building work,
    such as :-
    1) “Anatomy of Spirit” by Caroline Myss;
    2) “Lifestreams” by David Boadella;
    3) “Your Body: biofeedback at its best without instruments” by Beata Jencks;
    Let me add that any individual, couple, family, or ‘co-neighbourhood’,
    could visit the not-for-profit voluntarily holistic-life-improvement website
    for further-helpful and easily affordable publications
    and for ‘life-co-positivisation’ suggestions (often in green ‘go-for-your-life !’)
    “Relaxercise” [Bersin, Bersin & Reese] is a very shareable and co-do-able ‘wholesome-human-development’ or ‘life-rescuing’ guide;
    as is “The Centering Book” [Hendricks & Wills] good for all ages, and individuals, within families and larger ‘life-learning’ groups.

  3. maude elwes
    15/12/2014 at 12:20 pm

    On this I disagree with you Baroness.

    If, as it appears, men no longer want to take on the responsibility of their libido and feel that not getting married is the trick to it, then cohabiting should cost an equal amount to both parties as marriage does. That way, we all know where we are.

    If a couple live together and have children they are both responsible for the outcome of that cohabitation and when they are going into it, they must be fully aware of what they are taking on with such a move. And I would go one step further, by making it law that all finances and property within that relationship be separated fifty fifty on split up.

    However, men and women really must be taught from young the reality of ‘love’ and the differences between the two genders on this issue. A man commits from the outside in and a woman from the inside out. And that is the way it is. All the social engineering that goes on politically will not and cannot change that. Just the same way you can’t change the nature of any other species on this planet, whatever the mating dance may be. For, when you try it the result is utter misery and confusing for all.

    Women really should return to the knowledge once known by our grandmothers, and that is a man simply does not treasure that that comes so easily. The chase is his forte, it deepens his respect and sense of duty. However, that being fact, does not give either party the escape route they seek without the full realization of the cost of feeding what they issue.

    • Baroness Deech
      Baroness Deech
      15/12/2014 at 2:03 pm

      I fear that support laws will make men even less likely to commit, and more likely to leave before 2 years are up. There are already lots of laws about supporting children, very hard to enforce and strongly resisted, especially by men with more children in a new relationship. Remember the sad history of the Child Support Agency!

  4. maude elwes
    16/12/2014 at 3:25 pm

    Ah, but Baroness, as marriage has been turned in to a ridiculous farce by our odd laws, it is no longer revered the way it once was, sadly. However, if the cohabiting legislation was identical to marriage in the financial department, at least, it would create the environment of equality. If a man and a woman move in together, they are taking on a commitment. Whether that be temporary is not the answer to the children within that order, as their parents are forever.

    One of the real reasons marriage no long takes place is, the men don’t have to fight for their lady. In most cases nowadays she’s fighting for him. And this is a killer in his psyche. Which is why I said we need more in school about relationship than how to get off, we need deep lessons on how to build on respect and duty. And until that message comes across, women will be in even deeper as time goes by.

    What women today do not appear to realise at all, is, they are on top until that position literally changes place. Once he is on top she is squashed. And the longer he has to struggle to gain that position on top, the more deeply he becomes committed to the paragon that kept him waiting. And it should be taught in school the same way they teach how to put a condom on.

    I could give you a more elaborate analysis but it may drag on too long.

    The answer must be you move in together, you commit to financial support.

    I shall tell a quick personal knowledge story of love and marriage in our modern world. Two men in my extended family, one 36 the other 30, both considered hot, intelligent, well educated and with the power of the grace and looks. Both of them termed poonhounds. Lived in with quite a few did the elder, a year or two at a time. One even four years. No children I hasten to add. However, one day, out of the blue, at an office party he met a women who was ‘different.’ Well, you may say, how was she different.

    First she refused to go out with him as he had a girlfriend. He said ‘not serious.’ Ah, she said, ‘when not serious is serious elsewhere ask me for a date again.’ No time at all and he was a single guy. She dated him, for eighteen months explaining he was very attractive but she had a son to a previous marriage and she simply would not allow him to be part of her life in the real term as she did not want her son to grow up disappointed in his mother.

    Well, this man who had never been interested in the slightest with love and marriage, suddenly became monogamous and began courting this woman. She later allowed him to meet her son and her mother. He got in deeper and they decided to move in together as a committed couple. Within 9 months he had married her and they immediately had a child as both of them were 36 at the time. We all nearly fainted as we didn’t give her a hope in hell. But, her message was, ‘you want me, then make me happy’ or I won’t be yours.

    The other man very similar. He met a Japanese girl, she likewise had parents she had to please. He had to toe the line and no living together under any circumstances. So, they bought a house together after 4 years dating, both grew in stature, her parents in the dark. Until ‘he’ said he couldn’t do this any more as they had to be married because she deserved his caring and protection. Hah, so there you have it.

    It is really very satisfying as these men were so City and so full of it. Now, they are very contented men and all because these two lovely ladies kept them at a distance until they had made an emotional commitment, in the true sense of it. Neither of these women made it easy for love. They fought for their respect and as a result were trusted with affection. And I have to say, even I feel they will never divorce. It doesn’t run in our family.

    So, the outcome is more than that, these men take full financial responsibility as well as direction for these women. And yes, they both work, one an Estate Agent, the other an Accountant. Both understood the needs of the male psyche as well as their own. And they committed to themselves before they made any commitment to the men who chased them

  5. maude elwes
    17/12/2014 at 11:29 am

    When two adults decide to cohabit no one is forcing them to do this. It is their own choice. They must know the law before embarking on such a move. Teach it in school.

    No Sharia law should be recognised in this country under any circumstances and it should in fact be made unlawful. And the reason is, we do not have polygamy in this country, women are equal to men and must be accepted as such. So until and when they accept the ways of the country they have parked themselves in, namely this one, they will be able to have a marriage ceremony that is fully legal. Until then, it should be made perfectly clear that marriage under Sharia is not legal in this country under any circumstances and that should they go ahead with such an arrangement they are in fact cohabiting.

    Nevertheless, should they be cohabiting and the law is financial joint ownership with any live in couple that would solve that one question in a trice. Men and women get fifty fifty of the cohabiting pot as do those who are legally married. End of.

    Any biological parent, either male or female, must assume complete financial responsibility of that child until they are eighteen, regardless of their machinations or whatever persuasion they live under. And it must be bound in law. It is not force it is common sense. Adults assume responsibility for their offspring.

    • Baroness Deech
      Baroness Deech
      19/12/2014 at 1:09 pm

      As you say, Maud, it is the law that parents are responsible for their children’s upkeep to age 18. But why should a man always be financially responsible for a woman if he has lived with her?

      • maude elwes
        22/12/2014 at 12:20 pm

        It is a mans’ duty to look after the woman who has his child or children, who else will do this if not he? For life is another matter. However, it is not simply the male of the species who has to do the looking after, the female also has to look after the male. It is the contract we make when we decide to set up house together. What you should ask is, do we want responsibility for our actions or not? Even animals make an effort to mate to procreate and nurture.

        No man or woman should drift into this situation with closed eyes. And the sooner we have a standard of mutual caring rather than mutual uncaring the better for both sexes. Those who don’t want commitment should be shunned. Men do not simply have to be financially responsible for the women they move in with, they have to be prepared to accept adult behaviour to match their adult cravings.

        This attitude of use and discard is not healthy for either sex. And the grief this lack of long term acceptance is sending out has reached a fever point where no one feels trust in any part of life. Social cohesion relies on long term reliability otherwise our civilisation cannot survive. Taking care of women and children financially has always been a man’s prerogative. Why should it be any different now?

        It’s time both sexes started being honest with each other in order to free themselves up from the BS of political correctness that is driving our lives into the ground. Face facts and lead a far more fulfilled life. Logic and emotion are not always a good match.

        • tizres
          22/12/2014 at 3:53 pm

          Maude, may I speak up for a group of women who, for various reasons, have never wanted anyone to feel they are responsible for them (parents excepted). I am one such woman and am more than capable of reading a map (self taught).

          Your concerns are your concerns, and mine are all mine, which, funnily enough, are pretty minimal.

          • maude elwes
            22/12/2014 at 5:29 pm


            If we were allowed our individual preferences without interference from obsessive governments I would not have had reason to write here in response to the thread on this matter at all. And because I write my version does not mean you cannot or should not likewise tell your thoughts. But, whether you notice it or not, or choose to pretend it’s all feminist gung ho, to the benefit of natural men and women of the world, that is your prerogative. However, stuffing ideas onto other women, who don’t feel as you do, is another take on the matter. Time the silent afraid to speak girls opened up their hearts and told what they really think and feel. They have been bombarded to death by those who love to do for all those man things for themselves, even join them in desperation on the front line, as so few are found attractive enough to marry.

            So, you enjoy your map reading and allow those of us who prefer not to shoot our own snakes to enjoy the feeling of womanhood the way we like it. A man is a wonderful protector and provider and in their natural state enjoy the feeling of masculinity they derive from ‘assisting’ the women they care for, who incidentally, know how to receive their largess with admiration and respect as well as gratitude for their strength.

  6. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    22/12/2014 at 6:27 pm

    Tizres, I do agree. I have never understood why a woman should expect to be kept by a man because they have had a sexual relationship without children. As long as this expectation is fostered by our courts, women will not achieve the real equality of respect that most of them want and need at work.

    • maude elwes
      23/12/2014 at 1:26 pm


      The equality you speak of does not exist. We are two different entities. Equal in ‘importance’ but different in nature and thank goodness. The two dovetail to make a whole. Equality of which you speak, appears to be sameness to me and makes one gender not two. And there lies the oddity. Why would two separate and different sexes want to be carbon copies of each other? Surely, a balance is set by our difference. The ability to give, a natural male response, to the female ability to receive, likewise their natural state. In other words, the well known condition of yin and yang.

      Women in our modern world have been stripped of the ability to receive graciously, creating a withdrawal in men to give. Seemingly, those who set the laws of the land realise this human condition and follow it with empathy.

      And as a footnote, the idea that respect is gained by women being masculine and competitive is erroneous. The overwhelming attractiveness of Christine Legarde to both men and women is the adherence she has to her innate femininity. Which, somehow, those with a so called ‘feminist’ lean simply cannot understand. They connect womanhood to doormatism, when in fact it is the very opposite.

  7. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    23/12/2014 at 10:25 pm

    Very good joke, Maude! Back to the 19th century for women, fainting in their constricting clothing, no property, no contraception, no education, no jobs, only way to survive was through marriage. Forget hundreds of years of struggle for the vote and equality. Christine Lagarde reached her position via postgrad degrees and working while having two children and a husband. That did not stop her using her talents and supporting herself. A good role model.

    • maude elwes
      31/12/2014 at 7:23 am

      Every day I hear the term of how the UK is now the laughing stock of the world. And then you read this here and shake your head.

      Baroness, what mortgages are you speaking of? Do you live in a parallel universe? Mortgages being offered to anyone now are often asked for a guarantor if they are fortunate enough to even qualify in the first place.

      Women have been abused for the last 39 years by the state and it is getting worse. And it is getting worse under the guise of ‘equality.’ Feminism and feminists are a joke. The one thing these odd balls despise is the feminine instinct, it goes totally against their mantra. This so called equality is a third world way of life. Not the western civilised way or treating women. It is instead horrendous and regressive. And will only get worse.

      Take a serious in depth look at the countries that have adopted this so called equality stance and see the negative side of it on the women and children who suffer from it. But then you all know that, so, this is just another move to bring about robotic workers with no quality of life. They are cheap.

      I saw on an administrative list of a large company a couple of days ago and guess how many woman were listed as the movers and shakers of that multi million pound company? Why, all of them. And no men to be found anywhere. I wonder why that is? And have you noticed the TV channels presenters recently? The vast majority of them, middle aged women, with strange voices, simpleton faces and a complete turn off. Not to mention they all look as if they need a good hair wash and some clean clothes to put on. The country is a mad house and the only people who are unaware of it are those who tell us they are our leaders. The out of touch brigade we are paying a fortune to feed.

    • Lord Blagger
      01/01/2015 at 10:11 am

      That will be the Christine Lagarde who thinks that stealing 15% of everyone’s bank accounts is a great idea.

      That’s some role model. Someone who thinks theft on that scale is a good thing.

      That’s why you have no place in making any decisions on anyone else’s behalf.

      Page 49. Box 6

      She’s a crook in more than one way.

      She’s also under investigation in a 403 million corruption case

  8. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    31/12/2014 at 7:46 pm

    Maude – I haven’t mentioned mortgages! I note that you nearly always post your comments during working hours, not weekends and holidays. I am guessing that you are a working woman fantasising (as I do occasionally) about how nice it would be to stay at home and not have to commute and timekeep. I sympathise. Happy new year.

    • maude elwes
      04/01/2015 at 7:59 am

      Mdme. Lagarde ‘sacrificed’ her jam making for her career path, And this is the point I’m trying to get across here, why is that? Why did she and so many other high flying women feel they had to turn their back on their natural feminine instincts to be at home nurturing their children or steeping themselves in domestic bliss? Why do women feel they are reneging on the deal to be worthy of a good position if they choose love and internal satisfaction over the pressure to be like a man and deny that natural craving within? What is this lunacy we are following like the children with the pied piper?

      Here is a well thought out piece on just this enigma from a woman who still doesn’t understand the mad social expectation women have accepted to be less than themselves and more mannish. The shame they feel at exposing their need for motherhood and domestic bliss. It is crazy and should never have been a demand made on them in the first place. Why was this line taken up by women who should have known better than to tear apart the natural sense of well being women derive from their nest making activity? Women as clever and full of confidence in their being the way you are. What makes you betray the female need we have in this way?

      Worse than this though, is the demand on the majority of women who can never reach the heights of intellectual stimulation these high flyers have achieved. Those confused souls who are forced to give up the most important fulfilment of their lives to support the big business cheap skates in order to toss their burgers and bus their tables. For no financial gain let alone any kind of mental satisfaction. It is shame on all of you who have pushed this mania beyond reason, resulting in utter misery for so many women of the world.

      I wonder if the wonderful and very feminine Christine will regret the sacrifice she made later when she has time to reflect on her choices in more depth.

  9. maude elwes
    03/01/2015 at 6:21 am

    Not true, Baroness, I post all days of the week and all hours. Especially on nights when rather than lay trying to count endless sheep, I decide to be busy instead.

    And just one poke at your work, non work, attitude to the female of the species. If I went out of my house to some task elsewhere, whether that be for an employer or not, does not herald me as more worthy than another who works just as hard, or more so, taking care of the home. The women in my family all worked at home doing various chores, child care, cooking, cleaning, elderly care assistants, hostesses, dinner party planners, wedding planners, interior decorators, shoppers and life planners, teachers of reading to those not properly taught in school, launderers, drivers, nurses to their sick, and on and on, you name it. I, quite frankly, get tired of this futile feminist idea that my mother and the rest of the women in my extended family, were some kind of shirkers or gold diggers. When the truth is, they worked long, relentless hours making sure we lived in a clean, civilised and cared for environment. And in so doing didn’t feel they had somehow missed out on life. Rather than some skewed existence of a half life you seem to put so much stock in.

    I happen to admire greatly the choice women make to fulfil their most treasured inner life expectation rather than live, and expect their family to live, in some kind of low life squalor, pushed at them as sainthood by the present crones in our government departments who wish to return them to the lives of begging wage slaves.

    And should I be a homemaker, housewife, mother, or any other stay at home women, it would not indicate a less than hard working beneficial life. In fact, pretending hard work is sitting endlessly in meetings, chomping away at discussion and how to run other peoples lives strikes me as being lazy and unconnected to the basic meaning of life in the main. It is a means of shirking responsibility on every level and crying victim of circumstance when the brown hits the fan. As it always does.

    Women should rise up and walk out of the futile jobs they have been pushed into by simpletons in government and teach them all a lesson in good manners and respect for the female of the human condition.

    So, in other words, I work wherever I perform the task of the day, be that at home or outside of it. And I never dream of anything I want to be participating in, quite the opposite, I do what it is I dream of. As, I’m not persuaded by fashion or bullying by feminists to abandon my life ambitions. It’s too short to worry about what others think or feel you should be doing, rather than following your own plan. The difficulty for many though, is knowing what it is they do want. I’m fortunate in that I don’t have that dilemma.

    A very Happy New Year to you as well.

    • tizres
      05/01/2015 at 3:23 pm

      Maude, so where are you on Sarah Palin?

      • maude elwes
        06/01/2015 at 6:26 am


        Sarah Palin is an American. So, therefore, I am nowhere on her and her fellow countrymen, as, whatever they decide they want for that part of the world is for them and their people. Just as the UK and the Europeans should be sorting our what is right for them and their people, without being stitched to the coattails of yanks.

        And if you want to now say, well the link you put up was an American of the White House brigade, then my answer to that is, English or British women in similar situations to this person are, as she was when in her job, too afraid to speak out for fear of being dammed by their peers and ousted as a result.

        However, one point on Sarah Palin, she says what she says to get approval and votes from the American public, and, her spoutings are far from sincere. I don’t have that need.

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