Cohabitation/Unmarried Couples

When a marriage or civil partnership breaks down, any property, savings, pensions, shares or other assets owned by either or both parties are divided. This will often include assets owned solely by one of the parties.

Although a significant number of people believe in the notion of a common law marriage, the arrangement has no legal standing. If a relationship breaks down the claim each party has on the other bear no resemblance to the breakdown of a marriage and that they will be treated the same as a married or civil partnership couple, there is no such thing. In this case, there is no automatic entitlement to a share in an asset that is owned solely by the other party. This can often lead to unfairness, particularly if it has been a long relationship with children.

Our solicitors are experienced in acting for people who find themselves in need of advice at the end of a relationship.

We are able to advise on:

  • Establishing a share in a property by proprietary estoppel, constructive trust or resulting trust;
  • Seeking a sale of jointly owned property where there is disagreement between owners through the Trusts of Land & Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA);
  • Advising upon the terms of separation/cohabitation agreements;
  • Drafting separation/cohabitation agreements.

Our Recent Work:

  • Securing a 50% beneficial interest in a property via a constructive trust, following a trial in the County Court. The Defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal, which settled during the appeal hearing;
  • Reaching an amicable agreement following a claim for an interest in farm property by way of proprietary estoppel, brought by our client’s brother following the death of their mother;
  • Reaching an agreement at mediation on the division of assets acquired by an unmarried couple during a long relationship. The assets had a value of in excess of £2 million and included company shares, commercial and residential properties.