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The risks of living under one roof

View profile for Claire Richardson
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Living arrangements whereby a couple who is not married but live together in the same household are becoming increasingly common. This arrangement in law is known as cohabitation. The law gives cohabiting couples fewer rights on separation than for civil partners or married couples. Consequently there are an increasing number of disputes between cohabitees concerning the ownership of the household on a separation.

Where a dispute arises about property in these circumstances, the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TLATA 1996) affords some relief.

Usually disputes arise where one cohabitee wishes to show that their beneficial share in the property is different from their legal share in the property, for example, the property is owned in the name of one but is alleged to be held on trust for both. In these instances the cohabitee can apply to court for an order declaring the nature and extent of their beneficial interest.

The courts face a difficult job in these types of cases as arrangements between cohabitees concerning the ownership of property are notoriously informal. As a result there are no hard and fast rules on the correct division of property and the courts generally treat these matters on a case by case basis. It is therefore important to seek legal advice in pursuing such claims as a solicitor will know how and where best to gather evidence in support of a cohabitee's claim as well as having knowledge of similar cases which have gone before the court. Legal advice will ensure you are advised on the court's anticipated division of property and the potential for settlement ahead of court action.

If you believe you have a beneficial claim to a property which is not reflected in the legal title, contact our litigation team today.