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Last week saw a landmark ruling by the Scottish Supreme Court in the case of Gow v Grant. In this case, following an application previously turned down by the Appeal Court, an order was made for payment by one cohabitant to the other in relation to property following the end of their relationship.
Baroness Hale has warned that there are lessons to be learned in England and Wales from the fairness and practicability of this ruling. However, this ruling should also act as a stark reminder to those of us south of the border who remain in blissful ignorance of the fact that if we are in an unmarried relationship we have none of the rights accorded to a married couple should the relationship not survive. At present unmarried couples are unable to apply to the Court for the regulation of their financial affairs and there will almost certainly be no change in this situation prior to the next General Election.
In the meantime if you are unmarried but planning to live in a cohabiting relationship then you should certainly be thinking about having a co-habitation agreement drawn up. Although such agreements are not legally binding there is evidence that Courts are inclined to give weighty consideration to decisions made by the couple in all good faith at the start of their relationship.
If you are property owners then it is wise to have a solicitor draw up a Transfer Deed or Declaration of Trust to safeguard the positions of both partners should the relationship not survive.
Judi Lurie Hudson Law
7th July 2012
Moneybox Live, Radio 4 (Sat 7 July 2012) Law Society Gazette familylawweek