Chaguanas woman fails to prove cohabitation in court

THE son of a man who died in 2016 has successfully challenged a claim by his deceased father’s business partner that they were in a cohabitational relationship.

In a ruling last week, Family Court judge Allyson Ramkerrysingh said the woman, Jassodra Sooklal, failed to prove she had a cohabitation relationship with Kashwar Maharaj.

Sooklal’s application was dismissed.

In her ruling, Ramkerrysingh said Sooklal did not provide salient pieces of evidence to prove a cohabitation relationship existed between the two in her application to have the court recognise the relationship in law.

In response to Sooklal’s application to have the court declare her a cohabitant, she said she needed to provide proof the relationship was akin to marriage.

The judge said there was no evidence of a sexual relationship between the two, nor did Sooklal, in her application, say how they lived. She also said Sooklal gave vague details of the orchid business the two shared and provided no evidence of their sharing bank accounts.

Sooklal’s application for the court to recognise the relationship was strongly opposed by Maharaj's son Girish, who lives in Canada, since, had it been granted, Sooklal would have gained control of his father’s estate and any other assets, including bank accounts, that he left.

The son said between 1996 and 2000, his father lived in Texas with his mother and three siblings. He said his father returned to Trinidad because he couldn’t find work.

He admitted his father was staying at Sooklal’s home in Chaguanas, but said she was introduced his father’s business partner.

His application said as far as he was aware, his father and Sooklal slept in separate bedrooms.

In her ruling, Ramkerrysingh said the burden of proof to prove a cohabitation relationship existed in accordance with the Cohabitational Relationships Act fell on Sooklal, who offered insufficient evidence that it met the criteria.

Maharaj’s estate was represented by Farai Hove Masaisai and Jennifer Farah-Tull of Hove and Associates. Sooklal was represented by attorney Richard Sirjoo.

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