Whether you are married or in a cohabiting relationship, one of the first things your solicitor will focus on during your initial meeting will be to establish the date you separated from your spouse or partner.
In divorce, the date of separation is important because the value of matrimonial property will be determined on the date you separated. In essence, you are looking to obtain the balance sheet of the marriage at the date of separation – that is the total of all assets which make up the matrimonial property after deducting any debts.
If you are cohabiting, when you cease to cohabit is critical because you only have one year from the date you separate to bring your claim to court. If you fail to meet this deadline, the financial claim you may have against your former partner will fall.
How then is the date when you stop cohabiting established?
In many situations the date will be obvious and not subject to dispute.
But sometimes parties to a relationship will have differing views as to when a relationship broke down. A couple may still live in the same house but have stopped cohabiting for legal purposes long before one of you moves out.
The issue will be determined objectively so your solicitor will ask you questions about the nature of your relationship and changes in the normal pattern of behaviour. This will include sleeping and eating arrangements, holidays and social activities, and whether there was any change in the usual financial arrangements which operated between you.
For couples in a cohabiting relationship which may be breaking down it is imperative to get early legal advice on this issue to alleviate the risk of losing your right to make a claim against your ex.
If you have any questions following a separation, please contact our Roger Mackenzie at email@example.com