ToLATA – An Introduction into unmarried couples who are separating

Game Over

These days, it is becoming increasingly common to live with a significant other without being married, either prior to marriage or with no intention of marrying at all. In the UK over the last 10 years, the proportion of families containing a cohabiting couple increased from 15.3% to 18.4%.

Despite this rise in popularity, in the case of separation, individuals do not have the same financial and legal protections as those who have been married have. There is a general misconception that ‘common-law marriage’ exists; however, in this country, that is not the case and after a relationship ends, cohabitation offers comparatively little in the way of legal rights.

There are many factors which can affect the outcome of a dispute and often such cases come down to interpretation of intentions, conduct and communications. These can include:

  • Whether there is a signed Declaration of Trust, confirming equal shares
  • Whether the property in question is a home or an investment
  • The ‘common intention’ – i.e. an express or implied agreement between the cohabiting parties regarding their entitlement and split of the property
  • All contributions to the property, both financial and otherwise – for example, paying for repairs and refurbishments, carrying out upkeep and housework, looking after children, etc.
  • The welfare of any children who live at the property

A Declaration of Trust can help to provide clarity on ownership and be a useful way which sets out both party’s expectations, intentions and even considerations such as contributions to upkeep and mortgages, circumstances for selling, and arrangements for children or pets if cohabitation ends.

To find out more about how we can advise on the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act, please fill in our contact form or phone us on 0161 749 9606 to discuss further

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