Has marriage become for men only?

(65 Posts)
AcademicJDD Sun 29-Dec-13 17:52:39

With strong, independent women starting to step out of the shadows casts by mysoganistic men, and only seeming to get real praise if doing it while 'looking hot' is marriage a dead duck? Women continually are seen as the lesser of the partnership in a patriarchal bondage.
Why would we want this? Does anyone else think marriage is now left for the gay community and the old fashioned?

joanofarchitrave Sun 29-Dec-13 17:55:00

No to the last question.

I don't think your other questions make sense tbh.

Well, I'm married and I'm pretty sure nobody thinks of me as the 'lesser of the partnership'. Marriage is certainly still valuable for women, if that's what you're asking, as it sorts out a great deal of financial and legal stuff that would otherwise have to be gone through separately.

I have no interest in 'patriarchal bondage' or any other sort wink

AcademicJDD Sun 29-Dec-13 18:12:20

I just sometimes feel that marriage, in its overall portrayal is outdated and sexist. Obviously individual circumstances mat be wonderful for the odd couple, but on the whole what does it bring? Are not the whole legal advantages just a way of keeping an archaic system that was primarily enslaving women?

LineRunner Sun 29-Dec-13 18:47:34

I have the more to lose by ever getting married again, yes.

scallopsrgreat Sun 29-Dec-13 18:52:52

I think marriage has always been predominantly for men. Women got security, men got access to women's bodies, labour and money.

The happiness scale also bears weight to this in modern day too. Married men at the top, followed by single women, married women and single men. Wonder why hmm?

NiceTabard Sun 29-Dec-13 19:38:38

It would be good if civil partnerships were available to heterosexual couples IMO.

NiceTabard Sun 29-Dec-13 19:40:52

The tax breaks being brought in by the conservatives for married couples actually mean more money for the man, don't they (given how families are often set up in terms of who earns what). There is no compulsion on him to share the additional money with his wife / children.

Same old same old.

MyMILisfromHELL Sun 29-Dec-13 19:42:02

No. I am a married sahm & a feminist. Marriage is for both partners imo & ime.

TheDoctrineOfSanta Sun 29-Dec-13 19:47:11

What's your alternative, JDD? Civil partnerships all round?

perplexedpirate Sun 29-Dec-13 19:51:28

No. DH and I are both feminists. I wouldn't have married him if he wasn't.

WarmFuzzyFuture Sun 29-Dec-13 21:05:31

I think yes, generally marriage is mainly for the benefit of men.

But in reality is the the having and rearing of children where the inequalities arise and are compounded.

rutters1 Sun 29-Dec-13 21:32:08

What do you think men benefit from marriage?

WhosLookingAfterCourtney Mon 30-Dec-13 07:42:44

I was a sahm until recently, now I work very part time, so mostly a sahm.

Before we had dc, I worked full time earning a similar amount to my now dh.

So the dc were both born when we weren't married.. At some point I realised that the dc & I would be up shit creek if dp & I split. I had given up work , moved away from family etc.

So I told dp we were getting married. He initially said no, so I said I'd better find a full time job and put the dc in nursery. He changed his mind and we got married in July.

My point being - as a feminist, I wasn't prepared to have fewer rights following a split because I'd chosen to give up work for a. few years. Everything else is exactly the same, we were together 10 years before getting married.

Ps. I didn't change my name other than to become a Ms.

LadyIsabellasHollyWreath Mon 30-Dec-13 08:25:54

I know a lot of men who dodge marriage like the plague (because of the potential for post-divorce alimony). If it's all been arranged for their benefit then the patriarchy is playing an unusually subtle game of double bluff. Now a certain style of feminist thought could argue that in a post-patriarchal utopia the contribution of SAHPs would always be rewarded and restricting that reward to married women is the bribe to get women into a situation that is otherwise to their detriment.

However, given that men are mostly the gatekeepers of marriage, it is mostly the more advantaged women who end up married. In practice I really don't think married women are oppressed by their partners and society more than single, co-habiting, or "baby mama" women (is there a PC term for that last situation?).

Caveat: this is the UK you're talking about, I'm sure there are places out there where marriage is indeed a systematic tool of repression.

scallopsrgreat Mon 30-Dec-13 09:12:58

"a certain style of feminist" Really? All those courts awarding spousal support must be notorious for being a certain style of feminist? Oh, wait...

You aren't painting men in a good light whichever way you look at it LadyIsabella.

TheDoctrineOfSanta Mon 30-Dec-13 09:46:10

A Certain Style of Feminist?

Excellent, that's the title if my autobiography nailed!

Suelford Mon 30-Dec-13 19:25:45

Marriage, legally speaking, is really "for" the lower-income, primary carer, in the sense that it protects them from being screwed over in a divorce. This is the security people talk about. Historically and currently, lower-income primary carer is practically synonymous with woman, so marriage is "for" women.

blueshoes Mon 30-Dec-13 20:19:54

If a man is going to out earn the woman over the life of the marriage, it is in the interests of the woman and for her (and dcs') protection to be married.

Whatever the patriarchal roots of marriage are, the legal system in the UK has evolved such that it gives women, particularly SAHMs, security in the event of divorce and death. It is not an instrument of oppression.

DadWasHere Mon 30-Dec-13 20:55:05

Marriage, legally speaking, is really "for" the lower-income, primary carer, in the sense that it protects them from being screwed over in a divorce. This is the security people talk about. Historically and currently, lower-income primary carer is practically synonymous with woman, so marriage is "for" women.

Given my wife always earned more money in her career than me, had we divorced years ago and I been granted primary custody of our kids (and given I was the primary carer for our children as they grew that would not be unreasonable to have been granted) then my ex-wife would have been mandated to pay me child support.

In fact the department of welfare here produced an educational video about dependant child payments many years ago where actors in it played out that exact scenario, thus inverting the societal 'classical thinking' female-male roles as part of the education process, which I thought was doubly good.

Marriage was invented by men for their benefit - a way of making sure they were able to own women for domestic, sexual and breeding purposes. Men-as-a-class then made it almost impossible for women to live outside of a marital relationship (forbidding them to work or own property) and then sold marriage to them as being 'to their advantage.'

That's how it was. Yes, of course there are plenty of marriages which are happy and (these days, in the developed world) a genuine partnership of equals, but there are plenty more where a woman is trapped by abuse and financial dependency.

WhosLookingAfterCourtney Mon 30-Dec-13 23:34:39

Blueshoes you put it very eloquently

scallopsrgreat Mon 30-Dec-13 23:35:13

Wot SGB said. Marriage has never been 'for' women. There maybe more parity now within the institution but the whole concept of women as 'chattel' is still played out often enough.

TeiTetua Mon 30-Dec-13 23:54:27

If marriage has always been so bad for women, it's hard to understand why women have always been so eager to do it! And especially eager to see their daughters do it.

A while ago I saw a discussion about whether marriage was bad for women and the consensus was that it was true: but nevertheless, a man who was willing to marry a woman was better than one who wasn't.

HowlingTrap Mon 30-Dec-13 23:56:02

No.

Marriage has just changed,
Childbirth and child raising has cast horrendously abusive values further to one side, Changed massively over time, ...have people stopped having children now because its outdated and pointless? no.

Women just tolerate less crap and expect more equal marriages. I am married and I don't stand for any shit, I haven't stepped into a time warp because I chose to get married.

TeiTetua: because the alternatives to marriage have been deliberately made undesirable for women by men. Even when women achieved some economic indepence, there was still (and is still) a great deal of social pressure on women to marry, though it's always been framed as 'please a man enough to make him choose you'. The more women look at marriage (and heterosexual monogamy) with clear eyes and decide that actually it's not that good a deal, ta, the more intense the propaganda becomes - women who will not accept a male owner are 'bitter' or 'ugly' or 'desperate' or 'unnatural' or 'failures'.

Because men need and want marriage. They want a woman to cook their meals and clean their house and wash their shitty pants, they want to reproduce without doing very much of the hard work involved in rearing children. And yeah, yeah, Not Your Nigel, plenty of men are not this selfish and do see marriage/heteromongamy as a partnership of equals. Though it seems fairly clear that even the nicer ones quite often have a knack of weaseling out of most of the domestic shitwork and awarding themselves a lot more leisure time than their partners get...

DadWasHere Tue 31-Dec-13 11:46:18

A while ago I saw a discussion about whether marriage was bad for women and the consensus was that it was true: but nevertheless, a man who was willing to marry a woman was better than one who wasn't.

Interesting. I guess because a man who will not marry a woman is confirmed to be a bastard as first principal but a man who would marry a woman has, at least, the potential to be a good guy even if, when judging the male herd collectively, the chances are low and potentially higher he could be an even bigger bastard.

Either that or male hate is a thing and/or married women have a form of Stockholm syndrome, where they value their own husbands but pity their friends for the husbands they are married too- and their friends feel the same in return.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Tue 31-Dec-13 12:35:42

'...because the alternatives to marriage have been deliberately made undesirable for women by men.'

Like going to university, getting a job, having a career, buying a home, travelling, even more education, professional qualifications, happiness, enlightenment, satisfaction, pleasure....

What a shit hand you have been dealt.

BarbarianMum Tue 31-Dec-13 12:37:16

I find this thread confusing tbh.

Marriage is good for men and bad for women - compared to what?

If you are going to have and rear children, then a certain amount of resources (time, money, labour) need to be available to do that. So, as an individual wanting children, you have 3 choices:

-have children on the basis you will raise them singly (hard work, huge financial burden)

-have children as an unmarried couple (can work fine, or not, but very little legal protection for either party and this tends to disproportionally penalize women who tend to swap earning power for childcare responsibilities)

-have children within a marriage (can work fine, or not, but some legal protection if things don't work out).

Personally, I chose having children as part of a couple because in return for washing, house-keeping and child-rearing I get access to financial and other support to raise 2 kids that I really wanted in circumstances far, far easier than if I'd chosen single parenthood. Then having chosen coupledom for the purposes of procreation I chose marriage as it gives me financial protection in case of a split.

What does dh get out of it - 2 kids he really wanted being reared plus some housekeeping/home-making in a relationship that gives him legal rights regarding his kids.

I don't really see how either of us benefit more than the other. If anything I think the balance is somewhat on my side because the things dh 'gets' out of marriage as listed in posts above (sex, kids, someone to wash his pants) are all to easily available outside marriage. There are any number of threads on the relationship boards where some poor woman has lived with and had children by some useless tosser man and now wants to leave but the house is in his name, the savings are in his name and he is the main wage earner. Or people like my friend who lost her home when her partner died and his parents claimed half the estate (absolutely not what he would have wanted but no will). sad

scallopsrgreat Tue 31-Dec-13 13:47:30

Well some of us are looking at marriage from a structural perspective and others are looking at marriage still within a frame that women need to be married and that should be their goal i.e. how society frames marriage, something that women search for and men grant. I can see how that would be confusing.

There are other alternatives with raising children e.g. raise children with other women or families.

I think that everyone acknowledges with the way that society is set up currently and if you have children with your partner that marriage is the easiest way of having financial security. However, that security can be achieved outside of marriage even in today's society. It is incredibly patriarchal though that just because you go to a registry office you get financial security not afforded to those who don't. There's something very moralising (and not in a good way) about that. And there are still whiffs of ownership of women and children and their labour within that financial security setup.

outinthewilderness Tue 31-Dec-13 16:09:43

Many of these comments seem to assume that every woman marries a man who is financially stable and earns more than her. If this is the biggest reason for a woman to get married, why do women marry who earn more than their partner? Or who have more assets to begin with?

Artetas: For hundreds of years, those things were not available to women. They either married, or they remained the property of their fathers or, sometimes, later on, were permitted to take up low-paid, service-style employment eg governess or housekeeper.

As soon as women started to gain financial autonomy, they started rejecting marriage and filing for divorce in greater numbers. This is still going on. Hence the efforts to convince women that they are the ones who are 'unfulfilled' unless they hand themselves over to a man's ownership.

CaptChaosGlitteryBaubles Tue 31-Dec-13 17:35:33

Women who don't marry within a certain time frame are still spoken of as 'on the shelf' 'an old maid'. Their biological clocks must be ticking and they become 'dried up old prunes'. None of the language used to describe unmarried women is complementary. Even women in long term monogamous relationships which bear children and are happy are thought of as 'being unable to catch a man'.

Men, OTOH, are thought of as carefree bachelors, sowing their wild oats, footloose and fancy free, unencumbered by a ball and chain. If they marry, they are 'making an honest woman of her'.

If language influences thought, and vice versa, then why are these things still voiced? Surely in our enlightened times, when women can do all the things ArtetasSwollenAnkle suggests, then no one would make those comments?

But, of course they do. Marriage is still mostly for the benefit of men, to the detriment of women, but we still continue to do it.

Just by the bye.... men don't need to be married to the mother of their children in order to have rights anymore, PR is a given now for unmarried fathers. It's women and children who are most at risk in non-married relationship breakdown of being made penniless and homeless, unless everything is shared equally in law, or a will has been made.

BarbarianMum Tue 31-Dec-13 17:54:02

<<It's women and children who are most at risk in non-married relationship breakdown of being made penniless and homeless, unless everything is shared equally in law, or a will has been made.>>

So that being the case, how can you say marriage is (now) mostly for the benefit of men?

There are ways to get legal protection outside of marriage but it's not that straight-forward. Anyone can - for example - make a will, and then change it without letting anyone other than a solicitor know. Dependent children have some rights to inherit under he law, but unmarried partners have no automatic rights.

There are of course lots of models for raising children - co-operatively with other women, with extended families etc - that don't involve marriage but you still meet the same basic situation: that if one party pulls out the other the other is left as a single parent (or has been all along).

Not sure about the situation where the woman earns/owns more than the man. In the cases I know of, two salaries or one a half plus part-time childcare are still necessary to make ends meet but then most couples I know earn broadly similar salaries and share childcare, so maybe not typical.

blueshoes Tue 31-Dec-13 19:35:52

out: "If this is the biggest reason for a woman to get married, why do women marry who earn more than their partner? Or who have more assets to begin with?"

Wearing my cynical hat I would advise her not to get married particularly if her partner is going to be the primary carer.

DadWasHere Tue 31-Dec-13 23:38:47

Men, OTOH, are thought of as carefree bachelors, sowing their wild oats, footloose and fancy free, unencumbered by a ball and chain. If they marry, they are 'making an honest woman of her'.

If language influences thought, and vice versa, then why are these things still voiced? Surely in our enlightened times, when women can do all the things ArtetasSwollenAnkle suggests, then no one would make those comments?

'Enlightened times'??? There are places in the world even today where to be female, married or not, is to be a slave to male keepers and the expectations of the society in which they live.

However here, in my corner of this planet, if I wanted to encounter people who voiced such things as what you list your good Doctor would have to lend me his TARDIS or I would have to visit a nursing home for the elderly, probably the very elderly at that.

WarmFuzzyFuture Tue 31-Dec-13 23:46:13

Or visit the local pub DWH.

Thants Wed 01-Jan-14 01:29:38

Well a lot of people do get married but your right I do wonder why we would want to. I think straight couples should be allowed to have civil partnerships. I would definitely prefer that.

Chunderella Wed 01-Jan-14 10:18:26

While SGB is correct about the roots and history of marriage, whatever other faults the institution has, the lower earner in a couple is economically better protected by being married. We all know that usually this is the woman. For as long as this is the case, it remains unhelpful to us as a class to dismiss it as something that only benefits men.

If we weren't married, DH and I would still be living together because we enjoy being in each other's company more than we enjoy being apart, and because we prefer to rear DD together. There is nobody whom I would rather live with, myself included. No doubt this cannot be divorced from what society has drummed into me, but regardless it is still how I feel. So the only difference, as getting married did not change our domestic arrangements, would be that I would be financially more vulnerable (I work part time). There's fuck all feminist about that.

Mary1972 Wed 01-Jan-14 20:57:31

Marriage is for the benefit of the lower earner, so usually for the benefit of women only. It is arguably a foolish person who earns more and marries rather than just lives together.

Darkesteyes Thu 02-Jan-14 02:11:41

There IS still a social pressure on women in this regard as Solid has said.

Here is a current thread which is a good example of this.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/1953702-Idiot-daughter-has-dumped-lovely-boyfriend

DadWasHere Thu 02-Jan-14 07:54:02

There IS still a social pressure on women in this regard as Solid has said. Here is a current thread which is a good example of this.

How? I dont see that at all; I read the whole thread. All I see is an overly invested mother wanting to re-imagine her life and partially heal the damage of her own earlier mistakes by living vicariously through her daughter. That is not social pressure, that's her parental hang up. What are the majority of 'social' messages saying back to her in reply? Back off mum and let your daughter live her own life and make her own mistakes, which seems like the exact opposite to your point.

JinglingRexManningDay Thu 02-Jan-14 08:51:36

DWH a lot of my friends are unmarried with children,some in relationships some not. Any social gathering of any form the women get comments such as No wedding bells yet,Aw you're not giving us a day out,Has he got you on hire purchase whereas the men tend to get Sure you're almost a single man,There's still time to get out of it.
Time and again if a woman announces a second pregnancy without a marriage there's an air of disapproval whereas a man announcing a pregnancy without marriage is given pats on the back and hands shook.

Mary1972 Thu 02-Jan-14 09:45:29

For those of us who earn a lot more than men hiring it rather than buying it remains a better option for self preservation and indeed to protect our children. Usually of course that is reversed as sadly men still earn more than women although hopefully not for long.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Thu 02-Jan-14 09:56:05

I assume you mean that you wish to protect children from male violence. So how do you see the future, Mary? More single mothers? Communes of women sharing child-raising roles?

Santasaysno Thu 02-Jan-14 10:06:51

So I went in to the relationship with more assets and earn more 10yrs and 2 kids down the line I don't see the advantage to marrying house is in my sole name what advantage is there to me as a woman (apart from the romantic crap) to marry genuine question I've been wondering for years now

whatdoesittake48 Thu 02-Jan-14 10:29:34

Statistically, most divorces are instigated by the woman. So this indicates that men enjoy marriage more - and I think this is because they have more freedom within the bounds of marriage.

They leave the home more often, have more time away from the children, have most of their domestic life taken care of, have affairs which they get away with, never have to give up their earning potential, feel valued outside of the home and get praise from everyone around them for what a great provider they are...

Women have the opportunity to bring up children with more financial security - but what else is there?

Obviously not all men are like this - but even in a situation where they no longer love their wives, they stick at the marriage because it works for them.

Women often have the feeling that there must be more to life and set out to find it. Men think they have found it already.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Thu 02-Jan-14 10:54:41

Statistically, most divorces are instigated by the woman... and yet in the same post you say, ...(men) have affairs which they get away with...

So by your own logic they are not getting away with it. There is a lot of good sense in this discussion, but also some contradictory tripe. My own anec-data suggests that plenty of women are having affairs and then filing for divorce. Let's have some balance please, people.

Chunderella Thu 02-Jan-14 19:21:45

Santa if your decision on marriage would be based on legal/financial factors rather than a belief in the institution itself, that's a question you should ask a solicitor. There are some things you can only obtain via marriage (IHT exemption, easier time with immigration, widows pension while it still lasts, spousal maintenance) but they may not be relevant/desirable for you. You'd need to go ready to discuss assets, what you want to do with them and who you would want protecting and how in the event of your death. I'd encourage you and everyone else to make an informed decision.

Also, you don't mention if you have other provisions in place. But if you don't marry, you'll want to investigate both making wills, whether any pension provision can be transferred to an unmarried partner and getting a next of kin agreement drawn up.

Lottapianos Fri 03-Jan-14 14:52:39

'I think straight couples should be allowed to have civil partnerships. I would definitely prefer that'

Completely agree. It may well be a possibility - Peter Tatchell has a case going through the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the twin ban on gay marriage (now resolved) and opposite sex CPs is unlawful. Judgement is expected this year and he is confident of winning.

Apparently in Holland, where CPs are available to both same sex and opposite sex couples, over two thirds of them are taken up by opposite sex couples. It's a similar picture in France. I would like to think it would be the same here!

DadWasHere Sat 04-Jan-14 08:15:49

I would like to think it would be the same here!

I would assume that a proper civil partnership would confer the same rights and responsibilities as a marriage. If that's the case then what is being changed? The balls and chains linked to to the term 'marriage' so that the 'partnership' is not tied down by historical and religious assumption and convention in the same way 'marriage' is?

TheDoctrineOf2014 Sat 04-Jan-14 08:47:56

DWH, yes, I think that's the point - CPs come without the heritage of being "given away" by your father, "automatically" changing your name, only the woman promising to "love, honour and obey" etc.

DadWasHere Sat 04-Jan-14 10:27:58

DWH, yes, I think that's the point - CPs come without the heritage of being "given away" by your father, "automatically" changing your name, only the woman promising to "love, honour and obey" etc.

Well, that sounds reasonable and good but doesn't the UK already possess mechanisms for getting married without all the monolithic expectations that go with the 'event day' so to speak? Cant a couple just walk into a marriage registry office or have a state authorised person marry them, cant they write there own vows? Cant they elope and get married just the two of them like my parents-in-law did back in the day? Does not the state allow a woman to opt out of taking her partners surname if she wants? Is the concept and execution of restrictive 'marriage' in the UK a burden of law, social structure, family expectation or all three?

TheDoctrineOf2014 Sat 04-Jan-14 11:43:56

Sure, they can do all those things and many people do, but as a mechanism exists that is new and therefore culturally free of any implications, why not use that?

Personally I'm happy with marriage and actually got married in a church, but that doesn't mean I don't see the argument for CPs for any who would prefer them.

Lottapianos Sat 04-Jan-14 16:59:12

Doctrine - exactly! CPs aren't about taking marriage away from people who want it but the cultural baggage of the terms 'husband' and 'wife' isn't for everyone

Sausageeggbacon Sun 05-Jan-14 12:05:00

Interesting, DD is at Uni and has no intention of marrying as she thinks a career is where she wants to go. If that changes or not over the next few years you never know but she certainly sees a partner as a hindrance which is strange as at her age I was desperate to marry and have kids.

DS1 is 15 and adamant that he will never get married. He feels that even being a parent nowadays has too many complications so he intends to have short term relationships. Still at 15 most of us would be against marriage. His GF is 18 and I have no idea what she wants out of life but no matter what I may feel about her he is mature enough even at that age to make choices.

So children of both Sexes and neither side views marriage in a positive way.

Chunderella Sun 05-Jan-14 16:17:51

I and many of my friends felt the same at her age sausage, and we're all 29-30 now so arguably just about the same generation as your DD. The thinking was that you're limited in what you want to do next, if you have someone else to worry about. Ironically I met DH very soon after leaving! But I think it's a common enough viewpoint for younger people. Particularly now- with things being so tough, there are fewer opportunities to chase. The last thing you need is to be worrying about whether you'll be able to keep your relationship going if you do x internship, or take y job at the other end of the country. Having said that, some of the cities where there are jobs are so expensive that it's easier to live there with a partner and share expenses. So it's hard. I think the tough economic circumstances at the moment are definitely having an impact on young people's social attitudes.

I too am a supporter of Peter Tatchell's free love campaign, but while I support civil partnerships for straight couples, they're only going to be relevant to a small minority. Possibly a bigger issue is the number of people in unmarried partnerships, typically women, who are in an extremely vulnerable position due to being the one who makes the financial sacrifices in order to care for the family. The term 'common law spouse' has a lot to answer for. I suspect we're only starting to see the full implications of the problem, as most elderly people now are married. In a few generations, there are going to be people, mainly women, who will be suffering for lack of the IHT exemption and perhaps care home fees. This must be a feminist issue.

caroldecker Sun 05-Jan-14 20:07:21

chunderella what do you propose we do about the 'common law' spouse issue - you cannot force people into a contract - which is what marriage or CP is

Chunderella Sun 05-Jan-14 20:55:07

There's the $64,000 dollar question carol. You can actually force people into a contract, or something similar, and that's one of the options. You say that after x period living together, cohabitants acquire certain rights to the assets of the other. Of course this screws over people like santa upthread, who've deliberately avoided marriage for this reason. But not doing it screws over people who wrongly think they have some protection as a cohabitant. So it's a tough one. Myself, I think the best way to deal with it might be some kind of education campaign, but that's still an imperfect solution.

Thinking about what might actually happen, there's no real political will to pass straight CPs at the moment, alas. If it does happen, it's likely to be as a consequence of either an ECHR or ECJ ruling, or both. I believe a British couple have applied to the court already.

In terms of cohabitants automatically acquiring rights after a certain period, I think if we do go that way, it will be for policy and finance reasons. For example, if an unmarried couple live in a home that one owns exclusively, and the other then needs expensive care, I could see a ruling come in that the other partner automatically acquires a share in the equity at some point. I also suspect we might go down the road of cohabitants being entitled to spousal maintenance in certain circumstances, basically to try and cut the benefits bill, as part of a return to the old 90s policy of single parents having to seek maintenance in lieu of benefits.

caroldecker Sun 05-Jan-14 22:04:06

I think that education is the only way. There are significant/impossible difficulties in defining co-habitation.

Chunderella Sun 05-Jan-14 23:07:29

It's not that difficult. You just draw a line somewhere, and people fall on one side or the other. Create some body to rule on borderline cases if necessary. HMRC already pretty much do this when they're looking at tax credit claims, so the infrastructure is there if needed. I think education would be the fairest way, but suspect future policy on this issue will be driven by what is most financially expedient.

caroldecker Mon 06-Jan-14 19:26:35

When do you start co-habiting? First night, staying over a few nights a week - what if you retain your own home/space at parents? how do you prove they lived there? what about working abroad/forces family, are you living together if one of you spend 6 months abroad on tour?

Chunderella Mon 06-Jan-14 20:15:18

Again, you just draw a line and stick to it. You decide on an answer to all of these questions, and you enforce it. It isn't difficult- as I've said already, HMRC and the DWP already do this when they're looking at cohabitation in benefits cases. Use whatever rules they have. This isn't my preferred solution, btw, but it would be silly to think practicalities would prevent it from being implemented.

caroldecker Tue 07-Jan-14 00:14:48

here is the guidance for deciding if couples are living together for benefits purposes - as you see there are no rules or definitions, just guidance. This descision is taken at a point in time for benefits purposes, proving it is true for a period of time, say 5 years, particularly if one member does not want to would be impossible. Basically it would only be proven if both partners benefit - ie cost to the govt for pensions, IT - no benefit to an unmarried/CP poorer partner.

Chunderella Tue 07-Jan-14 19:12:36

Those of us who have worked in the advice sector know how very common such investigations are. It really wouldn't be at all difficult, let alone impossible, in the same way that it isn't now when HMRC and the DWP do benefits investigations. The political will simply needs to be there. And as I said I see this coming in as part of an attempt to pay less in benefits/get more of people's equity to pay for care home fees anyway. So if you want there to be an argument that one partner is benefitting from concealing something, there it is. Although it would be extremely simple to change the rules so only one of them has to be.

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