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Separation

How Assets are Divided

If you own a house in joint names, your respective interests in the property are safe. Property rights apply, and in a dispute, the court will award division of the value of the property in direct proportion to the contributions you have made. It would be no different if you were brothers, cousins, or simply friends.

Without marriage you are simply two people jointly owning a property, and putting whatever amount into the acquiring of it. It becomes far more difficult if the property is in one person's name.

Suppose we assume that a house is owned by a man in his sole name. His girlfriend moves in and they co-habit, but decide not to marry. Thirty years later they break up, and never did marry. It is quite possible that the woman in this example would have no interest in the property at all, and thus no right to insist on a sale of it to divide the family assets so that they can go their separate ways. She could find herself leaving with nothing for her future security. Similarly, everything in the house must be dealt with under property rights.

In a divorce everything can be dealt with by the court if the couple can't agree. But in an unmarried separation it will boil down to who bought what - very difficult to do after years together. Unless an item is a gift (in which case legal title passes to the receiver) everything you own would have to be identified as belonging to one or the other by purchase.

It is far better if you can enter into a documented agreement when you set up home together to provide for the possibility that it might not work out quite as well as you hope. We will be happy to help you draft such an agreement.
 

We are always willing to discuss each individual situation. Please phone Alistair Dobson on 01858 445480, James Haworth on 0116 212 1000 or Sarah Townsend and Geraldine Watson on 0116 212 1080 to arrange a free initial appointment or visit one of our free walk-in clinics.  

Please note this will be kept in strictest confidence and is required solely to ensure we do not have a conflict of interest according to SRA regulations. The party WILL NOT be contacted by Lawson-West.