The Scottish Law Commission has launched a consultation seeking views on whether the law of cohabitation should be reformed.
What is cohabitation and what does the law currently say?
You may have previously heard of the myth that is “common law marriage”. Despite what you might have been told, there are no automatic financial rights for long-term partners in Scotland, the way there are for spouses and civil partners.
However, the law does recognise that couples who do not choose to marry or enter into a civil partnership do require a degree of legal protection on the breakdown of their relationship. Scots law considers a couple to be in a cohabiting relationship if they are living together as if they are husband or wife, or civil partners.
Cohabitants currently have a remedy open to them to seek financial orders if they have suffered economic disadvantage in the interests of the other person, and if there has been a corresponding advantage to the other partner. The financial orders can only be by way of a capital sum (and not, for example, transfer of a house).
Why is there a Discussion Paper?
It is widely acknowledged amongst family lawyers that the law relating to cohabitation is complex, with much left to the discretion of the court, and there is a general lack of awareness of the implications of being part of a cohabiting relationship amongst the public.
The Discussion Paper seeks views on various aspects of cohabitation law as it currently stands in Scotland and whether there is the need for reform.
How can I provide my opinion?
The Consultation is open for comment until 31 May 2020. If you wish to provide your opinion please refer to the Scottish Law Commission’s website at https://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/news/a-review-of-cohabitation-law-in-scotland/
Cohabitation is a complex area of family law that has important legal implications. Our team of family solicitors can provide you with expert legal advice whether you are considering entering a cohabiting relationship, whether you are already involved in a cohabiting relationship or whether your cohabitation has ended.
Please be aware that if your cohabiting relationship has come to end it is vital that you seek urgent legal advice as you must take steps to protect your position within strict time limits.