Last week the Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched its Private Sector Assessment (PSA) of the Cook Islands.
The PSA reviews the country’s business law framework, the constraints to businesses accessing finance, issuing relating to promoting competition and barriers to women’s economic advancement.
And ADB regional director of the Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office Andrea Iffland said she was surprised de facto relationships were not recognised in the Cook Islands.
“The PSA calls for gender equality to be advanced by continuing to implement the national gender action plan, investing in initiatives to support women’s businesses, working to end violence against women, and recognising de facto relationships,” she said.
Importantly, if the Family Law Bill 2015 is passed, de facto relationships will be recognised. However it will only recognise the relationships between men and women, not same-sex couples.
The Bill defines a de facto relationship as a relationship between a man and a woman who live together as a couple in a relationship in the nature of a marriage.
But if the matter went to court, the length of time the couple had been living together and financial dependence may be considered.
In New Zealand, a de facto relationship is defined as two people who live together as a couple and who are not married to each other.
Other recommendations made in the PSA included improving the business entry process, developing an electronic companies registry and improving foreign worker permit processes and protections.
CI News will bring you more details about de facto relationships in the next story in a series on the Family Law Bill 2015.