Though not all will admit it, a number of us will now be at loss as to what to do with our evenings now that the popular ‘Love Island’ series has come to an end. Many will be delighted that the nation’s favourite sweethearts, Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer, were voted the winning couple. Cast your mind back to their final date, when watching the Spanish sunrise together from their hot air balloon, Jack asked Dani to move in with him. Moving in together or buying a property together is a very exciting time, but whilst you are busy deliberating over paint colours and dividing up the wardrobe space, it is important to think about the future, cohabitation and what could happen if things ever do turn sour.
Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006
The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 gives some limited protections to those living together as cohabitants. To be regarded as ‘cohabitants’ a couples’ relationship must display certain characteristics of marriage including sexual relations, shared finances, emotional commitment and some degree of stability and social acceptance. However, cohabitants do not have the same rights as married couples, and it is important this misconception is ironed out.
Under the 2006 Act, which does not apply in England, cohabitants have the right to apply for a financial payment within one year of separating. The payment is not automatic – you require to show that you have suffered an economic disadvantage as a result of the cohabitation and that in turn, your ex-partner has been economically advantaged. Cohabitants also have the right to claim on their ex-partner’s estate within six months of their death, should they die intestate (without a Will). It is therefore worth considering putting a Will in place. Taking into account the imposed time limits, it is vital you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity should the need arise.
So how can you avoid getting mugged off if your partner decides to re-couple at the next fire pit gathering? Enter into a Cohabitation Agreement. It is a legally binding document which makes it #obvs what will happen should the relationship break down. It can give answers to a number of questions: Who will pay for what? Are the bills split equally or apportioned to reflect your individual earnings? Did one person put down a bigger deposit? What happens to the property if you split up? Getting your wishes down ‘on paper’ in a Cohabitation Agreement is a totes sensible move.
If you are already cohabiting, fear not, a Cohabitation Agreement can be entered into at any time during the relationship, although it is advisable to have it signed prior to moving into your new home.
If you have any questions regarding cohabitation law or Cohabitation Agreements, please contact the Brodies’ Family Law Team who will be pleased to assist – calls or emails work best as unfortunately we do not operate through texts!