24/12/18Do Unmarried Couples Have Legal Rights When It Comes to Property?

In the final part of the Family Lawyer Leicester FAQs, three part series, I clarify the legal rights of unmarried couples and property assets.

A lot is said about the division of property following a relationship breakdown between unmarried partners, but let’s separate the fact from the fiction and establish exactly where you stand in terms of UK law…

Following the thread of parts one and two of this series, unmarried partners do not have the same type of security under UK law that is afforded to married couples. With that in mind, it’s worth entering into a contractual agreement with your partner to decide how property assets should be divided in the event of separation.

UK family law recognises this document as a ‘Cohabitation Agreement’ and this document can be drafted by a family lawyer. However, if there is no legally binding agreement in place, then you can ask the court to decide the outcome on how a property is to be divided.

FAQs answered

What happens if a property is held in joint names?

If a property is held in joint names, then the asset will often be split 50/50. In some cases, one partner will buy the other half’s share of the property. However, if this isn’t possible or agreed upon, then the property will have to be sold, with the sale price (after any other fees) divided equally between both parties.

If a dispute arises, court rules indicate that all parties should first try to negotiate a division of assets settlement without court intervention. When instructing a family lawyer, the option of family mediation will be put on the table, which will involve a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

Failure to reach an agreement will require a court application to be submitted, in which case a judge will adjudicate over the division of assets.

What happens if a property is sole owned by one partner?

Sole ownership of a property can make proceedings difficult, especially if you’re not named as the owner. It’s often the case that the person named on the property deeds retains full ownership.

For the partner not named on the deeds, the onus is on them – under the advice of a family lawyer – to demonstrate that they are entitled to a share of the property. This will often involve a court appearance.

Under these circumstances, UK family law can be complex, which will require the guidance of a family lawyer.

Claire Holland, Holland Family LawClaire Holland is a family and divorce lawyer at Holland Family Law.

She specialises in providing legal advice for all areas of Family Law to include divorce, separation, finances and children.

You can call Claire on 0116 436 2170 or email her at claire@hollandfamilylaw.co.uk.

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