22 July 2020

Cohabitants, don’t live in the wild!

By Marieke Morshuis

Earlier I wrote a blog about so-called "compensation rights" for unmarried cohabitants.

If you invest money in the assets of your partner, for example his/her home, will you get your money back in case of a break-up? If you do not put anything on paper, it becomes difficult, because the law does not regulate cohabitation and according to the Supreme Court, the legal regulation for married people does not apply to unmarried people. Suppose you still have a right to reimbursement (e.g.: in accordance with an agreement), then there is another pitfall, namely whether the right to reimbursement has expired in the meantime.

Statute of limitations

Limitation of a claim means that after a certain period of time a claim can no longer be made. There are different limitation periods in the law for different types of claims.

Statute of limitations for married couples

There are no limitation periods for married couples. The idea behind this is that it is not good for a relationship for a partner to have to claim an investment during the marriage. Therefore, the law provides that reimbursement rights for spouses only expire 6 months after the divorce.

Statute of limitations for the unmarried

Nothing has been arranged for unmarried cohabitants. The question is therefore how long you have to reclaim your investment in the assets of your partner. Do you already have to do that during your relationship to prevent limitation of the claim? That is unclear.
On the one hand, it has been determined by the Supreme Court that the statutory regulation on married couples’ compensation rights does not apply analogously to unmarried couples. Therefore, in most cases the general limitation period of 5 years will apply (after the investment). This means that your reimbursement right may expire during your relationship, even though you are not aware of this.

On the other hand, recent rulings such as one by the Court of The Hague, February 4, 2020, ECLI: NL: GHDHA: 2020: 409 stipulate that the same limitation period applies to cohabitants as to married couples. This means that you would have up to 6 months after the termination of your relationship to claim your investment from your (ex-) partner.


If you want to avoid losing the ability to reclaim your investment in the assets of your partner at the end of your relationship, it is wise to draw up a cohabitation agreement. In a cohabitation agreement you can state that you have a right to reimbursement and that this right only expires after your relationship has ended and not during your relationship. In short: with a cohabitation agreement, you know where you stand at the end of your relationship and you no longer live together “in the wild”.

Do you have a question about this subject?

You can always contact me.

This blog was written in close collaboration with Lise-Milou Lagerwerf.

Previously published in De Telegraaf

Marieke Morshuis

Marieke Morshuis

Lawyer / associate partner

Marieke Morshuis has a large wide-ranging inheritance practice.

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