Feature

Shacking up could soon lose its allure

If the Australian government gets its way, shacking up could soon be just as big a commitment as marriage, said Patrick Parkinson in <em>The Sydney Morning Herald.</em>

Patrick Parkinson
The Sydney Morning Herald

If you’re not ready for marriage and are thinking about living together first, said Patrick Parkinson, think again. If the Australian government gets its way, shacking up could soon be just as big a commitment as marriage. The government has put forward a bill that would treat people who break up after “de facto relationships” exactly the same as married people who divorce. That means, in effect, that it would “impose upon people all the financial obligations of marriage whether they have chosen them or not.” The point behind the reform is to allow gay partners to seek alimony and divvy up common property fairly. But it applies to straight, cohabiting couples as well. There are plenty of reasons why people choose not to marry—and one of them is reluctance to make the commitment of joint finances. Under this bill, if Sarah and Simon are dating, and Sarah suddenly inherits a pile from her grandmother, Simon could claim some of that money when he dumps Sarah. In other words, a gold digger wouldn’t have to get a ring on his or her finger to lay hands on someone’s fortune. It’s one thing to treat gay civil unions like marriages. But for straights, “people’s right to choose not to marry should be respected.”

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