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Raeside Chisholm Solicitors

The directors of Raeside Chisholm are experienced solicitors who enjoy a deserved reputation in Glasgow and beyond for personal attention allied to a commitment to outstanding levels of quality legal services. For enquiries, please contact us on 0141 248 3456.
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Supreme Court Grants Unmarried Mother of Four Widowed Parents' Allowance

In a recent court case, mother of four Siobhan McLaughlin applied for widowed parent’s allowance to support herself and children following the death of her partner, John Adams, in 2014. Her application was initially rejected by the Northern Ireland Department for Communities on the basis that they were unmarried.

This decision was later overturned by the Supreme Court, ruling that the current law was “incompatible” with Human Rights legislation.

The court’s President Lady Hale provided the leading judgement for the case, stating:

“The purpose of the allowance is to diminish the financial loss caused to families with children by the death of a parent. That loss is the same whether or not the parents are married or in a civil partnership with one another.”

The court further added that it will be the Government’s responsibility to decide on whether or how to change the law.

Ms McLaughlin and Mr Adams had been living together for 23 years. Despite their long-term relationship and raising a family together, the current law means that the widowed parent’s allowance is only available to surviving spouses or civil partners.

The results of this ruling point towards a need for legislative reform to acknowledge the fact that unmarried couples, also known as cohabitants, are a fast-growing family type in the country.

According to a recent article published online by the Independent, the number of unmarried couples living together has doubled over the past two decades. Of the 19 million families in the UK, 3.3 million are cohabiting and many are unaware of the legal risks this poses to their rights.

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