So many things have changed over the last eighteen months as Covid has forced us to look at how and where we live and work. Be it for support, financial prudence, company or love, statistics show that there has been a marked increase in the number of couples choosing to cohabit. In legal terms that is defined as living with someone prior to entering into marriage or a civil partnership or indeed without entering into either at all. It is estimated that around 20% of households in Scotland are now made up of cohabiting couples.
Cohabitation agreements in Scotland
Many couples of course are simply excited about the big step and commitment they are making and so prior to moving in or purchasing a property together don’t take legal advice regarding their situation. This isn’t of course unusual as many couples just don’t realise that this decision has legal implications for them whether this is in terms of purchasing a property, making contributions to a property owned by their partner or in relation to any children of the relationship. Cohabitants do have some rights under the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 but notably, cohabitants don’t have the same rights and or the robust protections married couples or those in civil partnerships enjoy.
As unromantic and tediously mundane as it may seem it really does make sense to take specialist advice prior to moving in together or, if you’re already cohabiting, to take advice in respect of your situation and to then take steps to protect your position. In the event that your relationship doesn’t prove to have the longevity you hope for and you and your partner split up there are strict time limits which apply to any claim which one cohabitant may have against the other. The criteria for any claim is narrow in scope and an area of the law which can be very complicated for parties to navigate so it is important to understand your rights and how these affect you.
Legal advice for cohabiting couples
Whether you’re considering cohabiting, or are already living with one another taking advice really does make sense and if sadly you part ways down the line can stop a difficult situation from becoming intolerable. If you’re in the unfortunate position where you are currently separating then it is even more important that you take advice as quickly as possible due to that strict one year time limit that applies to raise any claim from your date of separation.
A cohabitation agreement can deal with all of these matters, including unequal contributions to a deposit on a property, and is something that Caritas Legal as solicitors and family law experts would certainly recommend. Think of it like you do an insurance policy affording you peace of mind. Hopefully you’ll never need to rely on it but should anything go wrong it’s good to know you have it in place.