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What is the meaning of cohabiting relationship?

30 November 2023 Written by Davidson Shirley Solicitors Category: Family Law

Navigating the legal landscape can be complex, and one area that often raises questions is the concept of cohabiting relationships. Understanding the legal implications of cohabitation is essential.

If you would like more advice, contact our team today.

A cohabiting relationship is when two individuals live together as a couple but are not married or in a civil partnership. Cohabitation can take various forms and is recognised as a legitimate and common living arrangement.

Shared Residence

Cohabiting partners share a residence, living together long-term or permanently. This includes both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Financial Interdependence

Financial matters often play a significant role in cohabiting relationships. This can involve shared expenses, joint financial responsibilities, or the mingling of financial resources.

Mutual Commitment

While cohabiting partners may not have a formal legal commitment through marriage or civil partnership, their relationship is characterised by mutual commitment and support.


Many cohabiting couples may have children together or from previous relationships. The presence of children can further impact the legal aspects of a cohabiting relationship, especially in matters of parental rights and responsibilities.

Legal Recognition

While cohabitants do not have the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples, Scots law recognises certain legal rights for cohabiting partners, particularly in the areas of property and financial matters.


A cohabiting relationship in Scots law involves two individuals living together in a committed and shared arrangement without the formality of marriage or civil partnership. Understanding the legal implications of cohabitation is crucial for addressing issues that may arise during or after the relationship. 

Davidson & Shirley Solicitors, Lanark, Hamilton, Carluke & Strathaven, Scotland

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