The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 introduced a legal framework for cohabiting couples who are not married and have not entered into a Civil Partnership but who nevertheless live together as if they are a married couple. Couples living together do not have the same rights as married couples and civil partners. However the 2006 Act stipulates what should happen when a relationship breaks down or when one of the parties dies. Accordingly it is very important to take legal advice when contemplating cohabiting to ensure that you are fully aware of what you are entering into. We can advise you about the possibility to drawing up a cohabitation agreement between you setting out how your finances and property are to be treated, particularly in the event of any separation.
The 2006 Act does make some provision for finances and property of cohabiting couples. For example, it provides that household goods purchased during the period of cohabitation are treated as if they are owned jointly and should be shared on that basis. There is also a provision that housekeeping money is treated as belonging to the couple in equal shares (this does not include the house owned by the couple). The 2006 Act makes provision too for when couples cease to cohabit. There is no equivalent to the fair sharing of matrimonial property provided for in relation to married couples or those in Civil Partnerships. However, a cohabitant can apply to the court, within a year after the date on which they ceased to cohabit, for payment of a capital sum or for an order that a party should pay an amount in respect of any economic burden of caring, after the separation, for a child of the relationship. The Court would look at a variety of factors in deciding what orders to make, for example how long the parties have been together, the type of relationship and any financial arrangements they have.
The Act also allows a cohabitant to claim in the estate of their partner on the partner's death where he or she did not leave a Will. This was not previously possible. Such application must be made 6 months from the date of death.
Should you wish any further information in respect of cohabitation, please make an appointment with one of our Solicitors who can advise you accordingly.
Cohabitation Agreement Solicitors
When you move in with your partner and aren't married, it is prudent to prepare for the possibility of things going wrong. This can be done through a Cohabitation Agreement which can protect against any problems which may arise if you and your partner decide to split up. The Cohabitation Agreement provides a record of what you have both agreed about how you own and share things. It encourages you to consider your finances, and set out a fair agreement on how money, property and liabilities should be divided if the relationship comes to an end. This ensures that neither party loses out financially and offers a level of security and piece of mind.
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