There have been hundreds of legal disputes relating to the division of property built up during a period of cohabitation by couples who are not married.
The arguments arise on the break-up of the relationship or on the death of one of the cohabitants. The law in this area is complex and the effect of litigation is often to reduce significantly the assets of the parties in dispute after the costs of the legal battle have been met.
In order to give more clarity to the law in such situations, and to give legal rights to cohabitants in such circumstances, the Cohabitation Rights Bill 2013-14 was introduced into Parliament. This has now received its second reading and will proceed to the committee stage, where the provisions of the Bill will be scrutinised in detail. Substantial changes may well be made and, with a General Election in the offing, it is unsure whether the Bill will make it to the statute books in this Parliament.
The second reading of the Bill was on 12 December 2014. Latest news on the Bill can be found here.