Co-habiting couples who have not been married fall outside the matrimonial legislation when it comes to property rights. This can be a complicated area involving trust law if a dispute arises over contributions made to buy the house or promises the parties made to each other.
The problems usually start when a house is first bought together, as co-habiting couples do not want to think about what would happen if their relationship breaks down. It is advisable at the outset to agree the shares each have in the house and enter into a declaration of trust, which in most cases will bind the couple on separation when the trust ends. This avoids a potential dispute arising in future about the shares each has in the house.
However, if there are minor children of the relationship a court may postpone a sale and division of the sale proceeds until the youngest reaches 18 years of age This can cause one party hardship having to wait for realisation of their share on sale. Otherwise, where no children are involved, the application of trust law will dictate the parties’ shares.
If you need help with understanding family law or you require advice for any of these situations, contact Challenor Gardiner on 01865 721451 and we will talk you through all your options.