There are many issues that can arise for co-habiting couples on separation but perhaps the most contentious and commonly litigated is the ownership of and respective interests in the family home.
In co-habitation cases, it is not uncommon for one or other party to assert that the legal ownership of the property is not an accurate reflection of the true ownership – either because the property is held in one partner’s name and the other claims an interest, or because although the property is jointly owned one partner considers their interest to be greater.
If there is no clear record of the arrangements then the court will be required to conduct a detailed investigation into the parties’ intentions for the property. This can mean the re-hashing and unpicking of discussions from years before and such forensic analysis usually comes with a high price tag in terms of legal costs.
Cohabitees should consider entering into a cohabitation agreement when they decide to move in together. The agreement can record not only the shares of ownership but also the practical arrangements in the event of a breakdown of the relationship such as whether one party will have first refusal to buy the other out.
The agreement is not binding on the court but does provide a clear record of intention which is a good starting point and can help to avoid costly and lengthy litigation.
For expert help call Morrisons Solicitors on 01737 854 500 or email [email protected].