You will have heard about several cases in the past few years which have involved unmarried couples (otherwise known as cohabitants) and what happens to their property when they split.
This most recent case, as detailed in the Daily Mail and can be found here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4857640/Therapist-ordered-fiancee-half-family-home.html should remind us that when it comes to being unmarried and living together the risks can be high.
The area of law when dealing with cohabitation disputes is complex and if court proceedings are issued can be expensive, especially if you lose as you could be made to pay the other persons costs.
We humans are an optimistic bunch; none of us want to consider what would happen if the worse happened and our relationship broke down. This is mirrored in our approach to death and making a will, as nearly 70% of us have not made one.
So what can you do about it, hope for the best….
There are several ways to protect each other if the worse were to happen and the cost of taking such a precautionary approach could be £10,000 – £20,000 less than if you didn’t.
If the property is being purchased in joint names then consideration should be given to entering into a Deed of Trust and buying as ‘tenants in common.’ Your conveyancing solicitors should be advising you about this at the point of purchase. A Deed of Trust would record who paid what and who will get what if the property is sold at a future date.
In any other situation, including moving into the other person’s property or buying the house in one person’s name, then a Cohabitation Agreement should be entered into. This will detail who pays for what, what interest, if any, they will have in the property and what happens if the relationship breaks down.
If a Cohabitation Agreement had been entered into in the case detailed in the Daily Mail then it could have prevented a costly court case.
Enoch Evans LLP follows the Law Society’s Family Law Protocol and the Resolution Code of Practice in promoting a non-confrontational and constructive way of dealing with cohabitation disputes, whilst always acting in a client’s best interest. Please contact a member of our Family Team for further advice on this area.