Statutory and other definitions of cohabitation

The following Family practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Statutory and other definitions of cohabitation
  • Statutory definitions
  • The Law Commission recommendations
  • Cohabitation Bills

Statutory and other definitions of cohabitation

There are various and varying definitions of cohabitation within legislation. In addition, the Law Commission, in its report 'Cohabitation—the financial consequences of relationship breakdown (Law Com No 307)', provided further recommendations as to the definition of cohabitation for the purposes of proposed legislation (which was not acted upon by the government). That report was followed by Lord Lester's unsuccessful Cohabitation Bill (see: Cohabitation Bills below). See also Practice Note: Case law definitions of cohabitation.

Statutory definitions

Examples of statutory definitions of cohabitation include:

  1. the meaning of 'cohabitants' is defined in section 62(1)(a) of the Family Law Act 1996 as 'two persons who are neither married to each other nor civil partners of each other but are living together as husband and wife or as if they were civil partners'

  2. references to whether a couple are living in the same household, eg sections 1(1A) and 1(1B) of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 regarding eligibility to apply under that Act, which includes references to living 'as the husband or wife of the deceased' or 'as the civil partner of the deceased'

  3. section 144(4) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 in which ‘a couple’ is defined as a married couple, two people who are civil partners of each other, or two people (whether of different sexes or the same

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