Resolution Awareness Week is taking place from 27 November to 1 December this year, in which the nationwide organisation of family law professionals committed to non-confrontational family law solutions marks its 40th anniversary.
Long committed to family law reform, Resolution have used the week to launch their Vision for Family Justice, which can be found here.
The Vision makes five recommendations: recognising the changing face of families, helping families to find solutions, protecting the vulnerable, ensuring the family courts meet the needs of families, and making family law fit for purpose.
Most notably, Resolution have used their Awareness Week to call for more rights for unmarried couples essentially through establishing an opt-out common law marriage.
Unlike spouses, cohabiting couples have no automatic mechanism for splitting assets. A poll carried out on behalf of Resolution found around half of cohabitees are unaware that they lack rights in the event of a relationship breakdown or death, with 59% of respondents backing better legal protections for cohabiting people.
Cohabiting families are the fastest growing family type in the UK, increasing by 144% between 1996 and 2021. While legislation is in place to protect the children of unmarried couples on separation, the same is not true for the provision of maintenance to the other partner.
Resolution’s proposals centre around eligibility criteria, meaning that if a couple meets the conditions to be classed as being in a committed relationship, either partner has the right to apply for financial remedies orders on separation. This would be an automatic right, meaning couples would have to choose to ‘opt out’.
The Vision also supports the Law Commission’s recommendations on surrogacy reform, which would allow intended parents in the UK to be recognised as legal parents from birth. It also calls for increased legal aid for alternatives to court, more public funding for early legal information and advice, and reforms to the family courts system and child arrangements.
Resolution launched its Vision for Family Justice at an event in parliament attended by Siobhan Baillie MP and Emily Thornberry MP, Shadow Attorney General for England and Wales.
Read more about Resolution’s Awareness Week and its Vision for Family Justice here.