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Domestic Relationship

Domestic (non-marital) relationships in Wills

At law, a domestic partnership is a relationship between two adults who are not married to each other but who are a couple (irrespective of gender or whether they live under the same roof) where one or both provided personal or financial commitment and support of a domestic nature for the material benefit of the other. Paid carers are not included.

To assist in determining whether such a relationship exists,the Relationships Act 2008 has determined that all of the circumstances of the relationship are to be taken into account including:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • The nature and extent of a common residence
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
  • Whether or not a sexual relationship exists
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of property
  • The care and support of children
  • The public view and reputation of the relationship.

Proving a Domestic Relationship is time consuming and expensive.There is no express requirement that the relationship be exclusive. A deceased person owes their domestic partner a responsibility to make adequate and proper provision for them in their Wills.
Under intestacy provisions a domestic partner is treated the same way as a spouse. Former spouses or domestic partners are only eligible to claim if they would have been able to take proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 and such proceedings have been instituted but not finalised and they are prevented from taking or finalising those proceedings because of the death of the deceased.