family law caithness cohabitation agreements

In many modern relationships, couples will live together without ever entering a marriage or civil partnership. Cohabitation is defined as when a man and a woman are living together “as if” husband or wife, or two persons of the same sex who are living together “as if” they were civil partners. In Scotland, limited rights are granted to cohabiting couples under the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, which offer some protections when a relationship ends and partners no longer cohabit.

What protections are afforded to cohabiting couples?

The protections afforded to cohabitants are not as extensive as those within a marriage or civil partnership, but they enable a partner to apply within a year of a relationship ending for:

  • financial support from their former partner, in particular where they are placed in a worse-off financial position as a consequence of the relationship ending;
  • equal division of the costs of childcare that arose during cohabitation; and
  • equal division of household goods and expenses accrued during cohabitation, including rent, mortgage payments and utilities.

Why should I enter into a cohabitation agreement with my partner?

Without a cohabitation agreement, the assessment of the financial needs and expectations is taken out of the hands of either partner and placed in those of the court. A court will carry out an assessment that considers:

  • the length of time the couple has been living together;
  • the nature of the relationship during the period of cohabitation; and
  • any financial agreements made during the period of cohabitation.

A court will make a comparison of the parties’ financial positions from the outset through to the end of the cohabitation period, and come to a decision as to how any inequalities can be addressed.

To avoid unfairness in a court award, it is advisable to have an open discussion and come to an agreement before moving in together. Any such agreement will pre-empt a court assessment.

Should I consult a family law solicitor?

A written agreement will be legally binding and enforceable in court. It is therefore important that both partners seek independent legal advice over the terms of a cohabitation agreement before entering into one.

An important issue to note is that the provisions of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 are retrospective, and will therefore apply to cohabiting couples who have lived together for decades. If a cohabiting couple’s intentions and expectations have changed over time or require clarification, it is important to do so in case the relationship comes to an end.

Contact our Cohabitation Agreement Lawyers in Scotland

Our Family Law Team regularly provides sensitive and effective advice to clients on all elements of cohabitation agreements. We serve clients across Caithness and Sutherland.

To speak with a solicitor about your family law matter, please call us on 01955 604188 or contact us online.

Enquire now

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