Cohabitants claims

The decision of the Supreme Court just out in Gow v Grant means we family lawyers once again will have some difficulty advising clients whose relationship has ended after cohabitation about their right to make a claim against their former partner. It may involve sticking a finger in the air rather than being able to give reasoned advice! It seems that where one partner sells a property to live with another he or she may claim “compensation” for the loss of the increase in value of their former property if they can show the sale was done “in the interests” of the other party even if the partner selling also got some benefit from it. No doubt there will be considerable analysis more learned than mine but it does highlight the importance of educating the public to the potential rights of a former partner. There is still a feeling among family lawyers that many people don’t appreciate that their partner may have these rights on separation. Some adhere to the urban myth that cohabitants have the same rights as married people. It may be time to increase awareness and encourage anyone entering into a relationship that involves living together but not marrying, to consider carefully the implications and to take advice and consider a cohabitation agreement as a way of protecting assets or ensuring that the other person does not get an unintended windfall as a result of the relationship. I’d love to know what others out there think?