Cohabitation means that a couple live together as husband and wife without actually being married. Following separation one cohabitant can make a financial claim against the other cohabitant.
There are strict timescales for making any such claim. The main limit is making the claim within one year of separation. But the claim period is reduced to 6 months if the cohabitation ends in death. This can often result in a court action being raised to avoid missing out on a claim. A capital sum can be claimed by a party who has suffered economic disadvantage. The amount to be awarded is likely to be less than in a formal divorce case.
Some examples below:
- Mrs Gow was awarded £38,900, mainly for the loss of investment in the home that she had sold when she moved in with Mr Grant
- Ms Wigham was awarded £250,000 following break up of a long term relationship. She had given up a promising career to raise the couple’s children
- After Mr B died without a Will, Ms G had no automatic right to inherit Mr B’s estate. Ms G had to petition for Appointment of Executor and then sue the Estate for payment. It was fortunate that the house was in joint name and the title contained a survivor ship clause.
To qualify as a cohabitant involves more than just living together. Some factors to consider include:
- Period of time living together, probably at least one year
- Amount & nature of time together
- Sleeping together, eating together, socialising together & having holidays together
- Supporting each other, including sharing finances
- Outward appearance and behaving like a couple.