It is reported from Scotland that the former partner of businessman Alan Savage is seeking damages from him because she gave up her job to come and live with him. Since the relationship ended the lady in question has entered into a civil marriage in the USA, but has been unable to secure similar employment.
The case is taking place in Scotland and the couple were not married. The law on cohabitation in Scotland is also different to English law. Nevertheless it highlights the issue of whether, on divorce or the end of cohabitation, one "spouse" can seek compensation from the other in respect of earnings for career prospects that have been damaged or put on hold directly because of the relationship. In many cases, this will be because one partner, often (but not always) the wife, will have given up work to look after the children.
When considering financial settlements on a divorce, the concept of maintenance can often take this idea of compensation into consideration. However, if a couple is not married, there is no legal requirement for maintenance and one party to the relationship can be seriously disadvantaged. Despite calls from family lawyers to modernise the law in this area, the Government still has no plans to introduce legislation protecting unmarried couples when their relationship breaks down.
One possible form of protection that couples should consider is a cohabitation agreement which both can sign, regulating their affairs whilst together and if they separate. For more advice on these and other related family law issues follow our family law blog or follow us on Twitter @Divorce_experts.