Family Law – Cohabitation
In the case of Patel v Vigh and another  the parties commenced cohabitation in 1984. In 1989 the parties moved into a property, with the tenancy being in the deceased’s sole name. The deceased died in 2008. The Claimant alleged that he had a beneficial interest in the property and also bought a claim against the deceased’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1970 as a cohabitant and/or a dependant.
The Chancery Division dismissed the claims holding that there was no evidence to show that the Claimant carried out work for and provided support to the decreased, and that there was no credible evidence to support his claim to be a dependant.
The Court ruled that the Claimant did not qualify as a cohabitant having applied the test for eligibility set out in the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1970, which requires parties who had been living for a period of 2 years prior to the date of death in the same household to be living as spouses/civil partners or alternatively the Claimant must show that immediately before the death of the deceased that they were being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased.
A cohabitant is treated as being maintained by the deceased if the deceased is making a substantial contribution in money or money’s worth towards the reasonable needs of that person.
This case makes it clear that the burden is firmly on the Claimant to support their case with full financial disclosure in order to allow the Court to consider their claim properly.