The Guardian has an article today about how long-term co-habiting partners are to be granted some of the rights currently extended to married partners when they split up. Personally I'm not too strongly in favour of this. If people want to offer full financial support to one another then they have the options of getting married or transferring money into one anothers accounts at the requisite level for the support they wish to offer. If people wish to live together without financially supporting one another, why should the government have any right to meddle with that situation?
The truth is, I suspect, that they think it will be a nice way to reduce the amount of benefits they have to pay out. Mothers (or fathers) deserted by their partners will be told they can't claim benefits because technically they own half of the over-mortgaged house they live in, have a right to half the value of the furniture in there, the car he/she ran away in or the money in the bank account he/she is rapidly spending. Or worse that they can't receive benefits until they have legally established what their ex-partners are worth (very little in several senses I suspect).
The Guardian however has thrown its weight behind the plan, citing three cases of wealthy middle-class unmarried couples where the woman was left unexpectedly penniless after a split-up or the death of her partner. What about some couples where the women earn more than the men? And what about the practicalities of implementing the scheme?