Living together is increasingly common. More and more frequently cohabitants are seeking legal advice before moving in together or soon after. We can prepare agreements detailing each party’s rights and obligations in relation to financial matters and property should the relationship break down. These agreements ensure that clients protect their respective interests at a time when there is a positive relationship and minimising the areas in dispute if the relationship breaks down.
The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 provides limited claims to cohabitants in situations where the relationship has ended by either a separation or death. There is still a misconception that long term cohabitation offers similar right to being married, it does not.
The Act allows claims on separation based on whether the applicant has sustained economic disadvantage in the interests of their cohabitant and/or children or whether the other cohabitant has been economically advantaged as a result of the contributions of the applicant.
On death, claims can only be made where the deceased cohabitant died without leaving a will.
The law is complex and there have been many conflicting decisions so far.
Be aware, there are very strict time limits for cohabitants to make a claim. A claim arising from the relationship breakdown must be raised in Court within one year of the date the cohabitation ended. Claims arising on the death of the other partner have a six month time limit from the date of death. Take advice early, even when separation is perhaps only being contemplated.