What is unmarried cohabitation?
There is no legal definition of what cohabitation actually means. It has been called a function-based relationship in comparison to a relationship based on love and family.
Cohabitation has been given a wide, varied definition in case law, a very broad outline on what the courts have said to be included in the concept of cohabitation includes relationships were:
- A Couple live together as husband and wife without being married or civil partners
- Members of the same household
- A relationship were a couple shares expenses
- Sexual relationships
- Relationships publicly known
- Relationships were children have been conceived
The relationship which is everyday recognised as a cohabiting relationship is that of a couple living together as if they were husband and wife without the legal documentation of a marriage.
The Legal Consequences of Marriage, Civil Partnerships, and Unmarried Couples
- Once a couple are married they share a mutual duty to provide for one and other with financial support.
- This mutual duty of financial support has now extended to cover civil partners since the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act 2004
- Cohabiting Partners have no mutual duty to provide for each other with financial support, either during their relationship or if the relationship ever breaks down.
Occupation of a Property
- Under the Family Law Act 1996, S30 explains how spouses and civil partners have ‘home rights’ which automatically arise, without the need for either partner to apply.
- Home rights will give both partners, whether to a marriage or civil partnership, the right to not be evicted from the family home after separation or during the relationship, even where only one partner legal owns the home.
- The rights can be exercisable against a third person if the property concerned is registered with HM registry, and the interest in the property is registered as either a land charge or with a notice on the Land register.
- Cohabiting partners may apply for an ‘occupation order’ under the Family Law Act 1996, to gain the rights equivalent to matrimonial home rights. However, this is not an automatic right.
For more information on:
- Ownership of a property
- Inheritance and succession