More frequently, couples are choosing to live with one another prior to entering into marriage or a civil partnership or indeed without entering into either at all.

However many couples do not realise that this decision has legal implications for them, whether this is in terms of purchasing a property, making contributions to the other’s property, children of the relationship or succession rights.

The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 sets out the relevant legislation for cohabiting couples and is currently under consultation by the Scottish Government who are considering whether the legislation requires to be amended and/or updated.

It is important that you take legal advice prior to cohabiting or if you’re already in a cohabiting relationship take advice in respect of your specific situation.

In the event that you are to separate the legislation which applies to your situation is very different to that of married and couples in civil partnerships. There is still a common misconception that “common law wife/husband” applies to couples who live with one another but are not married. This is not the case and you do not have the same rights upon separation or death as those who are married or in civil partnerships.

For cohabitants to make a successful claim against the other they need to show that they have suffered an economic disadvantage to the others advantage. There are also certain rights to movable property and further claims which can be raised in respect of the economic burden of caring for children of the relationship.

There are strict time limits which apply to any claim which one cohabitant may have against the other and the legislation can be complicated for parties to navigate.

It is also important that prior to cohabiting parties take steps to protect themselves. Whilst no-one likes to think of separating, a Cohabitation agreement can be looked upon as a peace of mind agreement, offering protection in the event that the worst does happen. A Cohabitation Agreement sets out what is to happen in the event of separation and avoids disagreement and possibly lengthy litigation and expense at a later stage.

Whether you are entering into a cohabiting relationship or you are separating, you should take expert advice to protect your interests and those of your family. Here at Caritas Legal we are committed to assisting our clients in a clear, fair way with straightforward pragmatic and solution focused advice for your particular set of circumstances. 

Please call us for further advice on 01383 431 101 or email

Contact Us

    Follow Us

    Our Legal Services

    Executries & Winding Up of Estates

    Family and Child Lawyers Scotland

    Wills and Power of Attorney solicitors Scotland

    Guardianship Orders for children & adults in Scotland