It’s that time of year again… Love Island’s on our screens and living rooms are filled with drama every evening.
We’ve seen couples tested throughout, having the option to recouple, remain loyal or even move villas and ‘crack on’ in Casa Amor. And this got us thinking: how many couples know their rights when cohabiting in Scotland?
As a result of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, cohabiting couples have more rights when they separate in Scotland than they do elsewhere in the UK.
These rights are not, however, equivalent to the rights of those in a married couple or civil partnership. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing in Scotland as a common law husband or wife.
Specifically, the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 affords cohabitants rights on relationship breakdown.
Cohabitants may have rights to payment of a capital sum; however, this can vary enormously and can be very uncertain as it depends very much on individual circumstances. In some cases, cohabitants may also be entitled to household goods, content, property, and money related to household expenses.
Plus, a cohabitant has no automatic occupancy rights in Scotland to the property they live in unless they are named on the title or the lease, although in certain circumstances the courts can grant those rights.
Moving in together as a couple is an exciting time, and often people don’t consider, or don’t want to consider, the possibility of relationship breakdown further down the line; however, it is important to be prepared for all eventualities to avoid being stuck in an uncertain situation.
This could include being reliant on your partner to meet mortgage or rent payments, or being left without any right to your home.
Cohabitation agreements are legally binding arrangements, and planning and putting one in place at an early stage can settle minds and remove any uncertainties that may crop up.
These agreements can set out the financial arrangements, clarify property ownership or devise mechanisms for division of assets should a relationship break down. For example, in a joint ownership situation, the agreement may clarify whether the property is to be sold, transferred or how equity in the property is to be divided. An agreement could even regulate matters during cohabitation, for example how household bills or finances should be handled.
When entering into a cohabitation agreement it is very important that both parties seek separate legal advice.
So whether the islanders need to draft an agreement before leaving the villa on how the winning pot should be divided, or set out their arrangements for future cohabitation, is very much up for debate; however, anyone planning to move in with a partner in Scotland definitely should.
And that’s where our family law team can help.
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