Is #Brexit all Boris has to contend with right now?!

26 Jul 2019

The country’s divorce from Europe has shone a light on the complexities which can arise on the breakdown of a relationship. My advice, as a family lawyer, is to say plan for the worst and hope for the best!

You will have been hard pushed to avoid the deluge of news reports concerning Boris Johnson’s appointment to No.10 this week. Before Boris addresses the issues of Brexit, the Irish backstop, a potential vote of no confidence and the prospect of a new Cold War if the newspapers are to be believed…should he be getting his ducks in a row a little closer to home?

Much has been made in the press about whether or not Boris will move his girlfriend into No.10 with him. Whilst for many there are more pressing national issues to consider, this does shine a spotlight on an area of family law which is still widely misunderstood. Despite the heightened press coverage in recent years concerning the legal status of cohabitees and the practical benefits of cohabitation agreements many still fail to understand the rights they have, or more importantly do not have, should the relationship break down.

A right of a cohabitee does not change after a fixed period of time. Your claims will be no different if your relationship breaks down after 3 years or 30 years. This could potentially leave one cohabitee in a particularly vulnerable situation.

In circumstances where Boris is still married to his Wife and living with his new partner – what are the different claims he could face and what can he do to protect himself…and more importantly his assets!

MarriageCohabitation

Claims against capital regardless of whether you are a legal owner of the property or not.

Potential claims against capital subject to ownership and the application of complex trust law
Claims against pensions.No claims against pensions.
Claims against income – that is maintenance for you as opposed to for a child.No claims against income.
Statutory obligation to pay Child Maintenance.Statutory obligation to pay Child Maintenance.

 

So what should Boris be doing to protect himself?

Divorce lawyers would always recommend resolving your divorce before cohabiting or becoming financially entangled with a new partner. We accept, however, that this is not always practical or realistic.

What is the legal definition of cohabitation? Therein lies the question! Cohabitation is not defined in statute and there is not a single accepted and universally applied definition of the same.

Before contemplating cohabiting, expert legal advice should be sought and a cohabitation agreement entered into. Whilst not 100% legally binding this document, if prepared correctly, will provide an unambiguous and retrospective evidence of both parties intentions at the time of cohabitation which should make resolving matters much more straight forward should the relationship breakdown. If matters go smoothly – and you live happily ever after – then there will be no need to ever get your Cohabitation Agreement out of the drawer.

Of course – the options open to Boris extend beyond those of us mere mortals as he could, after all, turn his attention to revising and updating the law relating to cohabitation in this country but it would appear for the time being that he may have his hands full with our divorce from the EU.

If you are looking for advice regarding your own divorce, separation or cohabitation, Trethowans’ team of family solicitors are here to help. Contact us today on 0800 2800 421 to arrange a consultation.

Author

Eloise Down

Chartered Legal Executive

Family

Email me

01202 339024