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Latest family law and divorce news and updates from Family Law Inverness. Telephone: 01463898650

Cohabitation Laws Criticised in Review of Scots Family Law

The Scottish Government recently published a review of Scots family law. The study considered the way the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 has worked in practice in the ten years since it was introduced.

The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 is one of the major pieces of family law legislation. It introduced rights for cohabitants and reformed the rights of unmarried fathers in Scotland. When the act was passed into law it was commended for modernising Scots family law and recognising the way the family dynamics have changed over time. However, many solicitors and stakeholder groups have criticised the Act for being unclear, poorly drafted and not going far enough to reflect the realities of modern family life.

The review was led by the Convener of the Justice Committee, Christine Grahame MSP, and heard evidence from a broad range of interested parties, including members of the legal profession, politicians and pressure groups such as Families Need Fathers.

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Recent Case Highlights Why Separating Couples Should Divorce

Many couples will separate and then wait many years before they get around to divorcing. A recent English case has demonstrated why separating couples should endeavour to end their marriage with divorce sooner rather than later.

Joy Williams, aged 69, had lived with Norman Martin for over 18 years when he died of a heart attack in 2012. The couple owned a house together as tenants in common, and this property was valued at £320,000.

Although Mr Martin lived with Ms Williams, he remained married to his wife. When Mr Martin died, his estate passed to his wife. There was no cohabitation agreement in place, and Mr Martin’s will had not been updated to reflect his relationship with Ms Williams.

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Court Rules Elderly Woman’s Sons Exercised ‘Undue Influence’

Lord Uist has granted a decree of reduction for properties that an elderly woman disposed to her sons on the grounds of “undue influence” and “facility and circumvention”.

The court heard how Mrs Audrey Matossian died at the age of 83 in 2010. She had been divorced and her previous husband had died in 2003. Mrs Matossian had three sons, Berj, 60, Richard, 57, and Alexander, 55. Alexander did not have a good relationship with the elder brothers.

Mrs Matossian had been the owner of three properties in Glasgow: the adjoining houses at 99 and 101 Drumover Drive and a flat at 592 Tollcross Road.

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Divorce Rates Highest in North of Scotland

Statistics released by the Scottish Government have revealed that divorce rates are highest in Shetland, one of the most northerly parts of Scotland. The average divorce rate across Scotland was found to be 2.8%, but this was more than double in Shetland with a divorce rate of 5.7%.

Other areas above the national average included South Lanarkshire at 4.7% and Glasgow at 3.6%.

The statistics are the result of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Surveys Core Questions which pooled data from three major surveys and interviewed over 21,000 people. This is the largest survey of its kind in Scotland and it aims to provide unprecedented insight into the lives of Scottish people.

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Rise in Cohabitation

Family structures have changed dramatically over the past 40 years. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that whilst the married couple family remains the most common type of family in the UK, the cohabiting couple family is the fastest growing category. Between 2004 and 2014 the numbers of cohabiting families grew by almost 30%.

The rise in cohabitation has been coupled with a steady fall in divorce rates. The most recent ONS figures have shown that there were 114,720 divorces in England and Wales in 2013. This was a decrease of almost 3% compared to the previous year.

The ONS directly related the fall in divorce rates to the rise in couples deciding to cohabit rather than marry.

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Most British couples are happy together

New analysis by NatCen Social Research has found that 86% of couples are happy in their relationships, although half of them admit to bickering occasionally.

As well as high levels of happiness in relationships, very few British couples are apparently thinking about breaking up. The research found that slightly under three in four (73%) never regret their marriage or having moved in together, and three in four (75%) said they had never considered separating from their partners.

The analysis of the ESRC funded Understanding Society survey also reveals how couples in the UK are getting on day-to-day:

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