Your rights following separation after living together – unmarried couples

Even where you have lived with your ex-partner and the property is owned solely by them, you may be able to ‘get what you deserve’ out of that property following relationship breakdown.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘common law’ husband or wife. Nor does a person automatically acquire rights in a property simply because they have lived in that property for a certain length of time.

The owner of the property, at face value, is the legal owner and also holds all of the ‘rights’ in the property.

However, this ‘default’ position can be challenged.

Following many cases heard in the highest courts of England and Wales, it is possible to claim that you have a ‘right’ in a property which is not legally owned by you. This law finally reflects the realities of modern life – that is, many couples live together and are in long-lasting relationships but do not marry.

The court looks for evidence that you have contributed to the property in some way.  Evidence is not limited to financial contribution. The court accepts that contributions to family life also have value and have accepted that child rearing, home-making and support of a working spouse can be enough to claim a right in the property.

If you are able to convince the court that you deserve to be considered as a joint-owner of the property, you will potentially be able to apply to the court for the sale and then take your fair share of the sale proceeds.

Here at Hartley and Worstenholme, we are proud to have an experienced litigator who has represented countless individuals in this type of claim. If you require any further details or wish to discuss a potential case, please contact Peter Ward at our Pontefract office