If you are cohabiting as a couple and your relationship breaks down, there is unfortunately no clear-cut legal position for what happens to your property. Typically, if you have moved into a property owned by your partner, the owner will retain their control over the property and you will have to move out. In some cases, it can be possible to argue that you have contributed financially to the property; for example, by paying part of the mortgage or contributing to renovations.
If you and your partner have jointly purchased a property, the situation can be similarly unclear. While typically each party would be entitled to an equal share of the property if it is sold, this is not always the case. Intention is often factored into deciding who gets what – so if you purchase a new property and begin paying for that, you may be entitled to a smaller share of your old property, since it is clear you no longer intend to jointly own it.
There is also the matter of what happens to the property prior to selling, or if it is sold at all. If you have children with your partner, usually the parent who is going to be living with the children is recognised as having a stronger claim on any property as their need is considered greater. As with everything covered already, this is by no means set in stone, however.
A cohabitation agreement can resolve this ambiguity before it becomes an issue. These agreements set out the arrangements for how finances, assets, children, and other issues will be handled in the event the relationship breaks down. If you are unmarried but cohabiting, a cohabitation agreement can be an excellent form of insurance should the worst happen.
What We Can Offer You
As there are no clearly defined precedents for how to divide property between separating unmarried couples, it is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced Family Law Solicitor on your side in case a dispute arises during your separation.
Our expert Family Law team have many years of experience guiding clients through the difficult and often messy process of separation. We can help you understand your rights, and if necessary, can represent you in Court and collaborative meetings or assist you during the mediation process. Whatever your personal circumstances, our Family Law team can help.
Our Past Cases
Below are some examples of property claims cases for unmarried couples that our Family Law team have conducted in the past:
- Advising and assisting parties to determine interest in property.
- Representing a client in a claim to determine interest in a property and an order for sale.