The law was altered in 2006 when The Family Law (Scotland) Act came into force, which made a number of significant changes in the law relating to divorce, separation and family life in general. Where a couple live together (common law partner), then household goods which they acquire during that time and which they use in their shared residence, are presumed to belong to them equally.
The law also now states that where any money is saved from housekeeping, or if property is bought from housekeeping money, regardless of who provided the money, cohabitants have equal right to share in that money or what has been purchased with it.
Cohabitation circumstances and making a claim
Co-habitants can now make a claim against their partner within a year of splitting up if they feel that they have been financially disadvantaged as a result of the relationship. If a couple split up, either one can apply to the court for up to a year afterwards for an order to pay a sum of money by way of compensation for the cohabitant who considers they have lost out financially.
The court would look at all the circumstances including whether the person applying to the court has suffered economic disadvantage, sometimes loss of earning capacity, capital etc and whether the other party has benefited from the other’s contributions e.g. looking after the couple’s children.
The law also enables a cohabitant to claim a share of their partner’s estate in the event of their death, although any such claim needs to be made within six months of death. For more information, see our Unmarried Couples’ Rights on Death page. A claim can only be made if their co-habiting partner did not make a Will.