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Family law | Legal Guides

cohabiting couples

Under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, some cohabitating couples now have legal rights in relation to their cohabitating partner. This includes a right to seek maintenance from the other partner, or apply for financial provision from his or her estate.

You can find out more about this using the links below:

The law in this area is highly complex. If you may be affected by this legislation, you should talk to your solicitor.

Qualifying as a cohabitant

To qualify as a cohabitating couple under the law, a person must show that they lived in “an intimate and committed” relationship with their former partner. This includes proving that the couple lived together for five years or more, or for two years if the couple have any dependant children.

To decide whether a person was part of a cohabiting couple, the Court will also consider:

  • The contributions of each person in looking after the home.
  • The earning capacity of each partner, and financial dependence of either partner on the other.
  • The degree to which they presented themselves to others as a couple.
  • Whether there are children.

Orders that the Court can make

If a Court decides that a person was part of a cohabiting couple, it can make a number of orders with a significant impact on both sides. These include:

  • Property adjustment orders.
  • Maintenance orders.
  • Pension adjustment orders.
  • Orders in relation to an estate.

Time limits

If a person is seeking an order under the legislation, he or she must apply to the Court within two years of the relationship ending.

Because of this short time-frame, a person who may qualify as a cohabitant should seek legal advice as soon as possible after a relationship ends.