We deal with a lot of cohabitation disputes here at Ward & Rider, when couples who are unmarried, have a dispute about what happens to their property when the relationship breaks down.

We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for you and our aim is to make this is as painless as possible.

It is often the case that when the relationship breaks down one party needs to leave the home and the issue is what will happen to that property. In a lot of cases, the property may be held jointly and we therefore need to determine what the legal and beneficial ownership of the property is. If you live with your partner and have contributed financially to the household bills each month then it may be that you have a beneficial interest in the property. Without an expressed declaration of interest or expressed declaration of ownership on the Title Deeds or through a Cohabitation Agreement, this can be difficult to prove. It is always in the interest of both parties to therefore have a Cohabitation Agreement from the outset to determine what these interests will be if the relationship breaks down and obviously we can assist you with drafting those documents.

However, if you have bought a house with a friend or family and disputes have arisen then we need to determine whether or not the property is jointly held as joint tenants which carries the rights of survivorship, meaning that if one person died, the other person’s share would automatically go to the other. You could also hold the property as tenants in common which means that you are joint owners but you do not carry the right of survivorship and that allows you to hold the Title in different shares and not necessarily equally. If there is a document suggesting how the property is to be held in tenants in common then that would assist if there was to be a relationship break up.

If a document suggests that you hold a property in equal shares then any equity in the home will have to be divided equally. If there are no such documents then we would have to look at the Trusts of Land and Trustees Act to determine how the equity in the property ought to be divided.

We would always suggest that parties obtain a true valuation for the home to use to calculate the equity and then we can assist with discussions thereafter to conclude this matter in the most cost effective way for you.

Please do telephone us and we would be more than happy to not only negotiate the terms of settlement for you, but also to draft the necessary Separation Deed to reflect the settlement of this dispute.

Call one of our experienced Family lawyers on 024 7655 5400 or email enquiry@wardrider.co.uk