A cohabitant as defined under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 is one of two adults (whether of the same or the opposite sex) who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who are not related to each other within the prohibited degrees of relationship or married to each other or civil partners of each other.
A qualified cohabitant means an adult who was in a relationship of cohabitation with another adult and who, immediately before the time that relationship ended, whether through death or otherwise, was living with the other adult as a couple for a period—
(a) of 2 years or more (in its entirety) , in the case where they are the parents of one or more dependent children, and
(b) of 5 years or more, (in its entirety) in any other case.
An adult who would otherwise be a qualified cohabitant is not a qualified cohabitant if :
(a) one or both of the adults is or was, at any time during the relationship concerned, an adult who was married to someone else, and
b) at the time the relationship concerned ends, each adult who is or was married has not lived apart from his or her spouse for a period or periods of at least 4 years during the previous 5 years.
(a) the degree to which the adults present themselves to others as a couple; (this is a very important factor considered by the Courts)
(b) the basis on which the couple live together;
(c) the degree of financial dependence of either adult on the other and any agreements in respect of their finances; (this does not need to be established for claims on death)
(d) whether there are one or more dependent children;
(e) the degree and nature of any financial arrangements between the adults including any joint purchase of an estate or interest in land or joint acquisition of personal property;
(f) whether one of the adults cares for and supports the children of the other; and
(g) the duration of the relationship;
For the avoidance of doubt a relationship does not cease to be an intimate relationship for the purpose of this section merely because it is no longer sexual in nature.
The surviving cohabitant can seek provision to be made for them out of the deceased cohabitant’s estate. There is no need to prove that the surviving cohabitant was financially dependent on the deceased. There is also no need to prove that the deceased failed to make proper provision for the surviving cohabitant in their will or on intestacy.
The Court cannot make provision for the surviving cohabitant that is greater that what s spouse or civil partner would be entitled to in similar circumstances. This will depend on whether the deceased died with or without a Will.
If the deceased cohabitee was married, the Court cannot make a provision for the surviving cohabitee that would reduce the Legal Right Share of the surviving spouse.
The law provides a two-year time limit for the commencement of proceedings “save in exceptional circumstances” from “the time that the relationship between the cohabitants ends, whether through death or otherwise.” . Two years is the longest that a relationship can be ended before the death of the cohabitant when the surviving cohabitant is seeking redress from the estate.
There is an absolute time limit to apply for relief against the estate of a deceased cohabitant. It is six months after the date of the grant of representation ( Grant of Probate of Administration) . There is no obligation on the Legal Personal Representative to notify the surviving cohabitant of the date of issue of the Grant of Representation. However, steps can be taken to ensure that the surviving cohabitant is notified in time, but it is important to act swiftly.