A recent Supreme Court judgement about property sharing by cohabitants after separation has provoked a great deal of interest.

The comments made about Gow v Grant are to the effect that Scottish law is much more flexible than English law.

I cannot comment since I know nothing of English law but what I can say is that if you want to protect yourself and your children from the financial consequences of a Scottish separation, get married first.

There is a general assumption that the rules are the same for those living together and for those who are married when you split up in Scotland. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Marriage has a special place in Scottish law. The law recognises that when you enter the marriage contract, you do so intending that it will be “till death do us part” and that, trusting those promises, you will be very willing to share your assets.

When you live together, however, you do so without any such contract and law makes no such assumption.

When it comes to separation, the law relating to Scottish divorce states that, unless there are special circumstances, everything should be divided equally whereas, for Scottish cohabitants, it merely seeks to assist where one party has obtained economic advantage from contributions made by the other or where one party has suffered economic disadvantage.

This is complicated and can be very difficult to prove. It is likely to go to court. There are strict (and short) time limits for making such claims. You place your economic future in the hands of the judge.

Financial stability means little when you are young and in love. Joni Mitchell wrote a song called “My Old Man“, which is said to be about her own relationship and which says: — “We don’t need no piece of paper from the City Hall keeping us tied and true”. I recall being quite taken with this. It seemed so true to me. I did not appreciate what another song on the album, “Little Green” was all about. It appears that, very sadly, her “Old Man” ditched her, leaving her with a child.

Marriage is no panacea but, in my professional life, I have seen too many girls sitting in front of me telling me pitiful stories of no man, no money and kids to provide for. It will pay to be a little hard-nosed these days, particularly when the government looks likely to turn off the housing benefit tap. You could end up back at home with your parents because, if he is the breadwinner, you are likely to get the kids and, he, the money.

The Scottish Government publish a handy leaflet about the financial aspects of living together. It is worth reading.

My day job is at Georgesons, Solicitors, although my online divorce service is to be found that MyScottishDivorce