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Cohabiting rights extended prior to the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

Elisabeth Cooper represented a client in a complex case in which the other party, who was represented by Queen’s Counsel, argued that a couple who could not legally marry prior to the implementation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 could also not cohabit in a way akin to marriage, prior to the introduction of the Act. The argument went on to contest that the court should therefore not take into account over a decade of pre-marital cohabitation.

In the first known judgment of its kind, the judge agreed with Miss Cooper’s submission that this argument led to an unfair and discriminatory result and was not consistent with his statutory duty to take into account all the circumstances of the case. He concluded that the 14 years of cohabitation would be taken into account in the settlement.

The other party further contended that Miss Cooper’s client should be bound by an alleged separation agreement in which the parties’ joint assets were placed into individual names and should receive no further lump sum. After hearing four days of evidence, the judge agreed with Miss Cooper’s case that there had been no concluded agreement.

Miss Cooper secured a lump sum of £1.5 million for her client, in addition to his pre-existing assets of £1.6 million.