LEGAL COMMENT: Denial of widowed parents allowance to unmarried mother is ruled illegal

The Supreme Court has today ruled that the denial of bereavement payments to an unmarried mother is illegal in a landmark decision that is likely to…

The Supreme Court has today ruled that the denial of bereavement payments to an unmarried mother is illegal in a landmark decision that is likely to have significant impact on the rights of unmarried couples.

Siobhan McLaughlin lived with her partner for 23 years - they had four children together but never married.

After her partner's death, she was denied 'Widowed Parents Allowance', which her children would have been entitled to if their parents were married.

Fiona Turner, Partner at Weightmans said:

"Widowed Parents Allowance can only be claimed by a surviving partner if that partner was either married to, or in a civil partnership with, the deceased.

 "The Supreme Court has determined that this restriction unjustifiably discriminates against an unmarried surviving partner with children, and breaches their human rights and pressure is mounting for the legislation to be amended to ensure that it captures those bereaved families who are unmarried with children.

"The amendment to the law would be a much-needed alteration to bring UK law in step with modern family life. There is limited legal protection available for cohabiting parties on separation – whether by reason of death or relationship breakdown – and as lawyers we continue to campaign vociferously for reform."

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