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'Refusal To Marry' Case Highlights Need For Cohabitation Law Reform Says Leading Family Lawyer

Irwin Mitchell lawyer says Kirsty Cahill’s case against ex-partner who refused to marry her brings deficiencies in family law into focus


The case of an unmarried woman awarded £300,000 by a judge following the breakdown of her relationship highlights the need for legal reforms in relation to cohabitation a leading family lawyer has said.

Kirsty Cahill hit the news yesterday when a judge awarded the 32-year-old a four-bedroom house in Colliers Wood, south London, as the 'price' of her ex-partner refusing to marry her.

Ms Cahill said the house was put in her sole name to give her financial security as partner Stephen George Farrer was "not prepared to marry her", but after the couple separated in 2012 Mr Farrer, 53, claimed he only put it in her name to get a mortgage and refused to let her keep the home.

Peter Morris, a leading family and divorce lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said the situation was one lawyers were faced with on a regular basis as more and more couples choose to live together and remain unmarried. He says this highlights the problems with current cohabitation laws which are out of touch with modern society.

Figures recently released by the Office of National Statistics show that only 48.1 per cent of people aged over 16 are married and living as a couple meaning that many of those who would once have been married choose just live together instead.

Mr Farrer told the court he had considered getting married to Ms Cahill after the birth of their third child but soon changed his mind.

Instead, on Christmas Day 2009 he went down on bended knee in front of family members and presented Ms Cahill with his grandmother's engagement ring, later whispering to the mother of his children that she should not get her hopes up as he would not be marrying her.

Peter Morris added: “Although it is unclear how much the court took into account Mr Farrer’s conduct, his behaviour clearly didn’t help his case.”

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