Cohabitational Relationships

Link to law: http://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/Laws2/Alphabetical_List/lawspdfs/45.55.pdf

Cohabitational Relationships
COHABITATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS ACT

CHAPTER 45:55

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Act
30 of 1998

L.R.O.

Current Authorised Pages
Pages Authorised

(inclusive) by L.R.O.
1–17 ..

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Note on Subsidiary Legislation

This Chapter contains no subsidiary legislation.

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Cohabitational Relationships Chap. 45:55 3

CHAPTER 45:55

COHABITATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS ACT

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART I

PRELIMINARY
SECTION

1. Short title.
2. Interpretation and application.

PART II

JURISDICTION

3. Right to apply.
4. Jurisdiction.
5. Staying or transfer of proceedings.

PART III

PROCEEDINGS FOR PROPERTY ADJUSTMENT
AND MAINTENANCE

APPLICATIONS

6. Application for property adjustments and maintenance.
7. Prerequisites.
8. Time limit.
9. End of financial relationship.

ADJUSTMENT OF PROPERTY INTERESTS

10. Adjustment order.
11. Adjournment, change in circumstances.
12. Deferment of order.
13. Effect of death on application.

MAINTENANCE

14. No general right to maintenance.
15. Order for maintenance.

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ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS—Continued
SECTION

16. Interim orders.
17. Effect of subsequent relationship or marriage.
18. Effect of death.
19. Duration of orders.
20. Variation, revocation or extension.
21. Orders, etc., of the Court.
22. Variation and setting aside of orders.

PART IV

COHABITATION AND SEPARATION AGREEMENTS
23. Interpretation.

24. Entering into agreements.

25. Cohabitation agreement.

26. Separation agreement.

27. Law of contract.

28. Effect of agreement.

29. Varying or setting aside.

30. Effect of death.

PART V

MISCELLANEOUS
31. Rules of Court.

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CHAPTER 45:55

COHABITATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS ACT

An Act to confer on cohabitants rights and obligations, to
give the Courts jurisdiction to make orders with respect
to interests in property and maintenance, to make
provision for the enforcement of agreements and for
matters incidental thereto.

[23RD NOVEMBER 1998]

PART I

PRELIMINARY

1. This Act may be cited as the Cohabitational
Relationships Act.

2. (1) In this Act—
“adjustment order” means an order referred to in section 4(1)(a);
“applicant” includes a cross-applicant;
“cohabitant” means—

(a) in relation to a man, a woman who is living or
has lived with a man as his wife in a cohabitational
relationship; and

(b) in relation to a woman, a man who is living with
or has lived with a woman as her husband in a
cohabitational relationship;

“cohabitational relationship” means the relationship between
cohabitants, who not being married to each other are living
or have lived together as husband and wife on a bona fide
domestic basis;

“child” when used in relation to the parties of a cohabitational
relationship means a child of either party or both parties and
includes an adopted child;

“Court” means a Court conferred with jurisdiction under Part II;
“High Court” means the High Court of Justice or a Judge thereof;

30 of 1998.

Commencement.

Short title.

Interpretation
and application.

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“Magistrate’s Court” means a Court of summary jurisdiction
within the meaning of the Summary Courts Act;

“maintenance order” means an order referred to in section 4(1)(b);
“property” includes real and personal property and any

estate or interest whether present, future or contingent, in
such property.

(2) This Act does not apply to or in respect of a
cohabitational relationship which ceased before the coming
into force of this Act.

(3) Nothing in this Act derogates from or affects the
right of a person to apply for any remedy or relief under any
other law.

PART II

JURISDICTION

3. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, a cohabitant
may apply to the Court for an order or other relief.

(2) The Court shall not make an order under this Act
unless it is satisfied that—

(a) the parties to the application are or either of
them is domiciled in Trinidad and Tobago; and

(b) both parties lived together in Trinidad and Tobago
for at least one-third the duration of their
cohabitational relationship.

4. (1) The High Court shall have jurisdiction to make any
order or grant any relief under this Act, including—

(a) in relation to property, an order declaring a title
or right, or adjusting an interest; or

(b) an order for—
(i) the periodical payment to a cohabitant of

such sums of money and such term as may
be specified; or

(ii) the payment to a cohabitant of such lump
sum as may be specified.

(2) The Magistrate’s Court shall have jurisdiction
under this Act to make maintenance orders only.

Ch. 4:20.

Right to apply.

Jurisdiction.

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Staying or
transfer
of proceedings.

Application for
property
adjustments and
maintenance.

Prerequisites.

Time limit.

5. (1) Where proceedings have been instituted under this
Act in relation to a person, and it appears to the Court that other
proceedings have been instituted by, or in relation to, the same
person in another Court, the first mentioned Court may—

(a) stay the proceedings before it for such time as it
thinks fit; or

(b) dismiss the proceedings.
(2) Where there are pending in Court, proceedings that

have been instituted under this Act and it appears to the Court,
that it is in the interest of justice, that the proceedings be dealt
with in another Court having jurisdiction under this Act, the Court
may transfer the proceedings to that other Court.

PART III

PROCEEDINGS FOR PROPERTY ADJUSTMENT
AND MAINTENANCE

APPLICATIONS

6. Under this Part, a cohabitant may apply—
(a) to the High Court for the granting of an

adjustment order or for the granting of a
maintenance order; or

(b) to the Magistrate’s Court for the granting of a
maintenance order.

7. The Court shall not make an order under section 6
unless it is satisfied that—

(a) the applicant lived in a cohabitational relationship
with the respondent for a period of not less than
five years; or

(b) the applicant has a child arising out of the
cohabitational relationship; or

(c) the applicant has made substantial contributions
of the kind referred to in section 10,

and that failure to make the order would result in grave injustice
to the applicant.

8. (1) Where cohabitants have ceased to live together as
husband and wife on a bona fide domestic basis, an application

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End of financial
relationship.

Adjustment
order.

Adjournment,
change in
circumstances.

under this Part shall be made within two years after the day on
which they so ceased to live.

(2) The Court may grant leave to a cohabitant to apply
for an order after the expiration of the period referred to in
subsection (1), if the Court is satisfied that not to do so would
cause undue hardship to the cohabitant or a child of the
cohabitational relationship.

9. In proceedings for an order under this Part, the Court
shall, so far as is practicable, make such order or orders as will
end the financial relationship between the cohabitants and avoid
further proceedings between them.

ADJUSTMENT OF PROPERTY INTERESTS

10. (1) On an application for an adjustment order, the High
Court may make any such order as is just and equitable, having
regard to—

(a) the financial contributions made directly or
indirectly by or on behalf of the cohabitants to
the acquisition or improvement of the property
and the financial resources of the partners; and

(b) any other contributions, including any
contribution made in the capacity of homemaker
or parent, made by either of the cohabitants to
the welfare of the family constituted by them;

(c) the right, title, interest or claim of a legal spouse
in the property.

(2) The Court may make an order under subsection (1) as
to the title or rights of a cohabitant in respect of the property of
either or both cohabitants.

(3) An adjustment order made under this Part is binding
on the parties to the proceedings, but not on any other person.

11. (1) Without limiting the power of the Court to grant an
adjournment in relation to any proceedings before it, where on an

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application by a cohabitant under this Part for an adjustment
order, the Court is of the opinion—

(a) that there is likely to be a significant change in
the financial circumstances of the cohabitants,
or either of them, and that having regard to the
time when that change is likely to take place, it is
reasonable to adjourn the proceedings; and

(b) that to make an order with respect to the property
of the partners when the changed financial
circumstances occur is more likely to do justice
than an immediate order,

the Court may, upon an application by either cohabitant, adjourn
proceedings to such time as the Court thinks fit.

(2) In forming an opinion as to whether there is likely to
be a significant change in the financial circumstances of either
or both the cohabitants the Court may have regard to any change
in the financial circumstances of a cohabitant that may occur by
reason that the cohabitant—

(a) is a contributor to a deferred annuity plan or
pension fund plan or participates in any plan or
arrangement that is in the nature of an annuity;

(b) may become entitled to a superannuation
benefit; or

(c) may become entitled to property, as the result
of the exercise in his favour, by the trustee of
a discretionary trust, of a power to distribute
trust properties.

(3) For the purpose of subsection (2) a deferred
annuity plan or pension fund plan has the meaning assigned
to it by section 28(1)(b) and (c) of the Income Tax Act and
superannuation benefit means any pension, gratuity or any
allowance provided for under a written law.

12. Where the Court is satisfied that a cohabitant in respect
of whom an adjustment order is made is entitled or likely to become
entitled to property which may be applied in satisfaction of the

Ch. 75:01.

Deferment of
order.

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order, the Court may defer the operation of the order until such
date, or the occurrence of such event, as is specified in the order.

13. (1) Where, before an application for an adjustment
order under section 6 is determined, either party to the application
dies, the application may be continued by or against the legal
personal representative of the deceased party.

(2) Where the Court is of the opinion—
(a) that it would have adjusted interest in respect of

property if the deceased party had not died; and
(b) that, notwithstanding the death of the deceased

party, it is still appropriate to adjust those interests,
the Court may make an order in respect of that property.

(3) An order made under this section may be enforced
on behalf of, or against the estate of the deceased party.

(4) Rules of Court made under section 31 may provide
for the substitution of the legal personal representative as a party
to the application.

MAINTENANCE

14. Except as otherwise provided by this Act, one cohabitant
is not liable to maintain the other cohabitant and a cohabitant is
not entitled to claim maintenance from the other.

15. (1) A Court may make a maintenance order, where it is
satisfied as to one or more of the following matters:

(a) that the applicant is unable to support himself
adequately by reason of having the care and
control of a child of the cohabitational
relationship, or a child of the respondent, being
in either case, a child who is—

(i) under the age of 12 years; or
(ii) in the case of a physically disabled or

mentally ill child, under the age of 18 years;
(b) that the applicant’s earning capacity has been

adversely affected by the circumstances of the

Effect of death
on application.

No general right
to maintenance.

Order for
maintenance.

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relationship, and in the opinion of the Court a
maintenance order would increase the applicant’s
earning capacity by enabling the applicant to
undertake a course or programme of training or
education; and

(c) having regard to all the circumstances of the case,
it is reasonable to make the order.

(2) In determining whether to make a maintenance order
and in fixing the amount to be paid pursuant to such an order, the
Court shall have regard to—

(a) the age and state of health of each of the
cohabitants including the physical and mental
disability of each cohabitant;

(b) the income, property and financial resources of
each cohabitant;

(c) the financial needs and obligations of each
cohabitant;

(d) the responsibilities of either cohabitant to support
any other person;

(e) the terms of any order made under section 10
with respect to the property of the cohabitants;

(f) the duration of the relationship;
(g) a standard of living, that in all the circumstances

is reasonable;
(h) the extent to which the applicant has contributed

to the income, earning capacity, property and
financial resources of the other cohabitant;

(i) the terms of any order made by a Court in respect
of the maintenance of a child or children in the
care and control of the applicant;

(j) any fact or circumstance that, in the opinion of
the Court, the justice of the case requires to be
taken into account.

(3) In subsection (1)(a), “mentally ill” has the same
meaning assigned to it by section 2 of the Mental Health Act. Ch. 28:02.

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Interim orders.

Effect of
subsequent
relationship or
marriage.

Effect of death.

Duration of
orders.

Variation,
revocation or
extension.

16. Where it appears to the Court that a cohabitant, applying
for a maintenance order, is in immediate need of financial
assistance, the Court may make an interim order for the
payment of reasonable periodic sums until the application is
finally determined.

17. (1) The Court may not make a maintenance order in
favour of a cohabitant who has entered into a subsequent
cohabitational relationship or has married or remarried.

(2) A maintenance order shall cease to have effect on the
marriage or remarriage of the cohabitant in whose favour the
order was made.

18. (1) Where, before an application for maintenance is
determined, either cohabitant dies, the application shall abate.

(2) A maintenance order shall cease to have effect on
the death of either of the cohabitants.

19. (1) A maintenance order may apply for such period as
may be determined by the Court, but shall not exceed three years
from the date on which the order was made.

(2) Where the Court makes a maintenance order, being
an order made where the Court is satisfied solely as to the matters
specified in section 15(1)(a), the order shall cease to have effect
on the day on which the cohabitant in whose favour the order
was made, ceases to have the care and control of the child or
children, as the case may be.

20. (1) The Court may, upon the application of either
cohabitant, vary or revoke a maintenance order.

(2) Where the Court makes a maintenance order for a
period shorter than the period permissible under section 19(1), the
cohabitant in whose favour the order was made may, at any
time before the expiration of that order, apply to the Court for an
extension of the period.

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Orders, etc., of
the Court.

Variation and
setting aside of
orders.

POWERS OF COURT

21. (1) The Court, in exercising its powers under this Act
may do any one or more of the following:

(a) order the transfer of property;
(b) order the sale of property and the distribution of

proceeds of sale in such proportions as the Court
thinks fit;

(c) order that any necessary deed or instrument be
executed and that documents of title be produced
or such other things be done as are necessary to
enable an order to be carried out effectively;

(d) order payment of a lump sum;
(e) order payment of a weekly, monthly, yearly or

other periodic sum;
(f) appoint or remove trustees;
(g) make an order or grant an injunction in relation

to the use or occupancy of the home occupied by
the cohabitants;

(h) where one cohabitant is the lessee of the home
occupied by both cohabitants, and upon
separation, the other cohabitant wishes to remain
in the home, the Court may, with the consent of
the lessor, order that the lease be assigned;

(i) make any order or grant any injunction which it
considers necessary and which it is empowered
to make or grant under any other law.

22. Where, on the application by a person affected by an
order made under section 10 or 15, the Court is satisfied that—

(a) there has been a miscarriage of justice by
reason of fraud, duress, suppression of
evidence, the giving of false evidence or any
other circumstances;

(b) in the circumstances that have arisen since the
order was made, it is impracticable for the order
or any part of the order to be carried out;

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14 Chap. 45:55 Cohabitational Relationships

Interpretation.

Entering into
agreements.

Cohabitation
agreement.

(c) a person has defaulted in carrying out an
obligation imposed on the person by the order
and, in the circumstances that have arisen as a
result of that default, it is just and equitable to
vary the order or to set the order aside and make
a new order in substitution thereof,

the Court may, in its discretion, vary the order or set the order
aside and, if it thinks fit, make another order in accordance with
the provisions of this Act in substitution for the order set aside.

PART IV

COHABITATION AND SEPARATION AGREEMENTS

23. (1) In this Part—
“cohabitation agreement” means an agreement whether

made before or after the commencement of this Act, which
makes provision with respect to financial and other
matters, and includes an agreement which varies a
cohabitation agreement;

“separation agreement” means an agreement whether made
before or after the commencement of this Act, which
makes provision with respect to financial and other matters
and includes an agreement which varies an earlier
cohabitation agreement or separation agreement.

24. (1) A man and a woman who are not married to each
other may enter into a cohabitation agreement or a separation
agreement for the purpose of facilitating their affairs under
this Act.

(2) Nothing in a cohabitation or separation agreement
affects the power of a Court to make an order with respect to
the right to custody in relation to the children of the parties to
the agreement.

25. (1) A man and a woman who intend to cohabit or
who are cohabiting partners, may enter into an agreement in
which they agree on their respective rights and obligations

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Separation
agreement.

Law of contract.

Effect of
agreement.

during the period of cohabitation, or ceasing to cohabit, or on
death, including—

(a) their interests in or division of property;
(b) their maintenance obligations;
(c) the right to direct the education and moral training

of their children; and
(d) any other matter in the settlement of their affairs.

(2) If the parties to a cohabitation agreement marry each
other, the agreement shall be unenforceable.

26. A man and a woman who are cohabitants or who were in
a cohabitational relationship and are subsequently living separate
and apart may enter into an agreement in which they agree on
their respective rights and obligations, including—

(a) their interests in or division of property;
(b) their maintenance obligations;
(c) the right to direct the education and training of

their children; and
(d) any other matter in the settlement of their affairs.

27. Except as otherwise provided by this Part any agreement
entered into under sections 25 and 26 shall be subject to and
enforceable in accordance with the law of contract.

28. (1) Where on an application by a cohabitant for an order
under Part III, a Court is satisfied that—

(a) there is a cohabitation agreement or separation
agreement between the parties;

(b) the agreement is in writing;
(c) the agreement is signed by the parties and

witnessed by an Attorney-at-law;
(d) each cohabitant was, before the time at which

the agreement was signed, advised by an
Attorney-at-law as to the following matters:

(i) the effect of the agreement on the right of
a cohabitant to apply for an order under
Part III;

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(ii) whether or not it was financially prudent
to enter the agreement; and

(iii) whether or not the provisions of the
agreement were fair and reasonable,

the Court shall not, except as provided by section 29 make an
order under Part III in so far as the order would be inconsistent
with the terms of the agreement.

(2) Where, on an application by a cohabitant for an order
under Part III, the Court is satisfied that there is a cohabitation
agreement or separation agreement between the parties, but the
Court is not satisfied as to any one or more of the matters referred
to in subsection (1), the Court may make such order as it could
have made, if there was no such agreement in existence.

(3) The Court may make an order referred to in
subsection (2) notwithstanding that a cohabitation or separation
agreement purports to exclude the jurisdiction of the Court.

29. (1) On an application by a cohabitant for an order under
Part III, the Court may vary or set aside one or more of the
provisions of a cohabitation agreement, where in the opinion of
the Court, the circumstances of the partners have so changed, that
it would lead to a grave injustice, if the provisions of the agreement
or any one of them were to be enforced.

(2) In the determination of a matter respecting the support,
education, moral training or custody of, or access to a child, the
Court may disregard any provisions of a cohabitation or separation
agreement, where, in the opinion of the Court, it is in the best
interest of the child to do so.

(3) On an application under Parts II or III, the Court
may set aside a cohabitation or separation agreement or any
provision in it, if one party failed to disclose to the other, significant
assets, or debts or other liabilities existing when the contract was
entered into.

30. (1) The provisions of a cohabitation or separation
agreement relating to the payment of periodic maintenance, shall

Varying or
setting aside.

Effect of death.

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on the death of the cohabitant who is required to make those
payments, be unenforceable against the estate of the deceased.

(2) Unless the agreement provides otherwise, provisions
relating to lump sum payments and property may be enforced
against the estate of the deceased partner.

PART V

MISCELLANEOUS

31. The Rules Committee established by section 77 of the
Supreme Court of Judicature Act may make Rules prescribing any
matter of procedure that is necessary or expedient for the purposes
of any of the provisions of this Act and for conferring any
appropriate powers ancillary to the exercise of any jurisdiction
conferred by this Act.

Rules of Court.
Ch. 4:01.

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