Cohabitation - Family Law Solicitors Glasgow
Since 2006, the law in Scotland has recognised some basic rights for those who were living as a couple under the same roof but the relationship has ended, either through separation or death.
The rights are less extensive than those enjoyed by married people but do allow for the court to award shares in finances and household goods (though not the house, where different rules apply).
Before the right is recognised, the court first of all has to decide there was actual cohabitation – there is no minimum period for this, but the shorter the period has been, the more difficult it will be to convince the court.
What is looked at?
Other factors that will be looked at include whether finances were “pooled” or kept apart, who paid bills, and who took responsibility for looking after any children.
Next the court will look at whether one partner was put to a “financial disadvantage”, for example by giving up full-time work to look after young children. That may have been balanced out by a financial advantage – e.g. if the other partner paid the rent or bought all the shopping.
It is only where one side has lost out substantially in this equation that the courts will order this to be compensated by a lump-sum payment after the relationship has ended.
The courts have made it clear that they are not going to delve into the detail of supermarket receipts and bank statements – they will take a “broad-brush approach”, looking at the parties' respective financial positions at the start of their period of cohabitation, and at the end. It is only if that there has been a quantifiable economic imbalance that an award will be made.
Lack of a Will
This applies equally where one partner has died without leaving a will, which means that their immediate family will inherit the whole estate. This could mean, for example, having to move out of a property where the person has lived for decades.
In both cases an application to the court will be required but it’s essential to note that the rules allow a very limited time for this –one year from the end of the relationship, and only six months from the date of death.
The short timescales mean that advice should be taken right away, because claims that come later will be “timebarred” and the court will not look at them. And writing a lawyers’ letter will not extend the time – only an action being brought in court, either against the former partner, or their family if they have died.
Contact our Family Law Solicitors Glasgow & Edinburgh, Scotland
Beltrami & Company are conveniently based near Glasgow city centre but operate throughout Scotland. Any calls to our offices out with normal business hours can be dealt with by an experienced solicitor.