Under the Civil Partnerships and Cohabitants Act 2010, a new redress scheme has been established in order to provide rights for couples of the same or opposite sex who are cohabiting but not married or not in a registered civil partnership.
If the couple separate one of the parties may apply to court for financial and other reliefs.
Is there a time limit to apply to court?
The redress scheme may be activated by the end of a relationship or upon the break up or death of a partner. Proceedings must be issued within two years of the relationship ending.
Am I covered?
The categories of people that are covered and that may apply under the scheme are couples who are residing together for a two year period where there are children or a five year period were there are no children. The couple must also fall into the definition of a qualified cohabitant.
What is the definition of a qualified cohabitant?
A qualified cohabitant is defined as one of two adults of the same or opposite sex who live together in an intimate committed relationship and who are not related within the prohibited degrees of a relationship or not married or not civil partners of each other.
A court may take certain criteria into account when considering whether or not parties are cohabiting.
These are as follows:
- The duration and base of the relationship.
- The nature of the common residence.
- The degree to which one qualified co-habitant relies financially dependent upon the other.
- The care and support of children.
- Mutual commitment to a shared life.
- The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
- The nature of financial arrangements and any property purchases.
What Orders can a Court make?
A qualified cohabitant may apply to Court for financial relief, under the act, on the termination of the relationship, the following orders may be sought:
- Pension Adjustment Orders that a qualified cohabitant may apply for a portion of the other cohabitants pension
- Maintenance Orders, a qualified cohabitant may apply for a lump sum or a periodical maintenance payment from the other co habitant.
- A property adjustment order, the Court may award a portion of the other co-habitants property.
- Succession Act Rights, the act does not grant any automatic succession act rights however upon the death of a cohabitant but not more than 6 months after the Grant of Probate has issued one may make an application to court for provision out of the estate.
Can I enter an agreement with my partner in order to avoid the legislation applying to our relationship?
Yes, by way of a Cohabitation Agreement, the act specifically provides for the legal recognition of cohabitation agreements. A cohabitation agreement is an agreement entered into by cohabitants which regulate the shared financial affairs of cohabitant couples and enables couples to opt out of the entitlement under the act when such an agreement is entered in to.
The act specifically states that cohabitation agreements will only be enforceable upon the following terms:
a) That both parties have received independent legal advice or both have received legal advice and one party has waived independent legal advice.
b) The terms are negotiated on the basis of a full financial disclosure by both co-habitants.
c) The agreement must be in writing and the general law contract must be complied with.
d) Parties can make provision for each other through the cohabitation agreement.
e) The court still has an overriding power to go beyond any cohabitation agreement if it is in the interest of justice to do so.
The benefit of such agreement may take the pressure off the couples who do not wish to have the pressure of this legislation during their relationship.
If you would like further information on this topic please contact our team.