Widowed Parent’s Allowance: Can Cohabitees Claim?

Date: October 4th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

 

 

As the law stands cohabitees are not able to claim the government-funded widowed parents allowance (WPA). Campaigners like pressure group Resolution argue that it’s just one example of the discriminatory treatment of the six million or so people who live together without being married. But could a recent Supreme Court decision mean the WPA is about to be extended so that the cohabitees can also benefit when one partner dies?

 

What Is The Widowed Parent’s Allowance?

The WPA is available to those whose husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017. If death occurred after that date a bereavement support payment may be available. It consists of a lump sum payment, currently £3,500 followed by 18 monthly payments of £350 So it’s a considerable benefit.

 

What Has The Supreme Court Decided?

A Northern Ireland woman, Siobhan McLaughlin discovered that when her partner, John Adams, died in 2014 she couldn’t access the WPA. This was despite the fact they had cohabited for more than 20 years and had children together. In a widely publicised decision the Supreme Court upheld Ms. McLoughlin’s claim that the rules on WPA discriminated against her and her children and represented an infringement of their human rights.

In her judgment the Supreme Court president Baroness Hale said limiting WPA benefits to married couples and civil partners could not be justified. She stressed that the needs of children of cohabitees are exactly the same to the needs of children of married couples.

 

When Will The Law On Bereavement Benefits Change?

That’s up to Parliament. Despite calls by a parliamentary committee as far back as 2016 to remove he marriage/civil partnership stipulation there have been no signs of any intention to change the law. Having said that the Supreme Court decision is likely to increase the chances of a change to the law that would impact up to 2,000 families. We’ve seen recently how the Supreme Court decision in Owens v Owens led almost immediately to a consultation on no-fault divorce . Could the WPA be the subject of a similar change? It remains to be seen.

 

A Word About Private Pensions

While all pension schemes have their own rules and benefits, cohabitees should examine the terms closely. While there is often an automatic payout to husbands, wives and civil partners, unmarried partners may need to explicitly nominate their partner as a beneficiary to receive any post death lump sum. And not all pension providers will permit this. If you have concerns you should approach your pension provider directly.

 

Contact Us

Cohabitees can encounter a number of legal issues that married couples don’t. For advice you can call us on +44 (0) 20 7430 8470 or contact us online.

Share:

Google Reviews

Brookman Solicitors

42 Reviews

Chris Mullins 10/12/2018

Henry Brookman and team have been fantastic from initial point of contact. They were able to schedule me a 'free telephone consult' at short notice in order to fit with my travel plans. I have now received sound written legal advice from both UK and Overseas perspective which has given me great reassurance and peace of mind. I am now understanding of the legal journey I am to face and have confidence that his team will be able to support me!

Syeda Rizvi 09/11/2018

I can’t recommend Brookman solicitors enough. I met with Mr Aziz Malik from Brookman solicitors for a case that had an international dimension to it, and found him extremely competent, professional, reassuring and empathetic. Knowing that my case was time sensitive, Mr Aziz was quick to initiate the legal process, kept me updated on the case progress, responded very promptly to all my correspondence, gave very sincere legal advice and addressed all my concerns in a very patient and responsible fashion. He was very involved in the case, and I knew from the get go that my case was in safe hands. Throughout the process, the law firm also kept me posted on the costs of the services I was getting, hence making the process very convenient and transparent for me. The barrister they appointed to represent me at the hearing(s) was equally competent, knowledgeable and articulate. Thanks to Brookman solicitors, the outcome of my case was exactly what I had wished for, and I am beyond delighted. I am extremely grateful to them for their services. Please keep up the good work!

Nir Ozer 07/11/2018

Henry Brookman was very honest and helpful with the professional quick legal service. It's wonderful to know you get a proper advice when needed. I definitely recommend this law firm.

Chris Saunders 26/10/2018

I engaged Brookman Solicitor's on a particularly complex topic related to international divorce. Henry and his team provided excellent support and his expertise was a critical factor in a successful outcome. I would not hesitate in working with this firm again, or recommending them to others.

Petra LP 25/10/2018

Replied to my query very quickly and was very helpful and understanding.