Cohabitation disputes

Explore how we can help you and your family with any legal requirements when resolving a dispute.

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Settling a dispute about a property you shared with your partner, if your relationship with them has ended

  • If you have been living together with your partner and your relationship breaks down, this can be a very stressful time , especially if it’s not clear what interest you have in your home or other properties you own with your ex-partner.
  • The law covering beneficial ownership of property and how you acquire it is extremely complicated, so it’s important you seek specialist legal advice on your rights to any co-owned property.
  • Our expert dispute resolution solicitors will use their specialist knowledge to advise you from the outset, and guide you through the process of enforcing your claim or defending your interest.
  • We understand that putting together a convincing case can be costly and time-consuming, so we are here to help you understand how the dispute can be resolved as quickly, cost effectively and with as little stress as possible.

What are cohabitation disputes?

Cohabitation disputes refer to legal conflicts that arise between unmarried couples who live together. These disputes can involve issues such as property ownership, financial support, and child arrangements. They can be complex and require the assistance of a skilled lawyer to resolve.

Many couples do not enter into a cohabitation agreement (also known as a living together agreement), when they buy a house together. Such an agreement sets out how you’ll share the value of the property upon sale amongst other things. In the absence of such an agreement, the dispute could be settled in mediation or you may have to go to court.

Scott Taylor

Scott Taylor

Partner | Private wealth disputes

01483 464274

How the courts will decide

In England and Wales, the title to property is held both legally and beneficially. The legal name registered to the title may not conclusively prove who is beneficially entitled to the property.

You can acquire a beneficial interest to the property in several ways. These include an express declaration of trust, a resulting trust, constructive trust or by proprietary estoppel (a way of creating interest without formal agreements).

If after your break-up you can’t agree your respective shares in a property you own together, you could rely on our dispute resolution services, such a mediation, to resolve the issue or you may need to go to court. The relevant law to consider is the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. This Act sets out how to determine your interest in the property and what could happen to the property, for example whether it is to be sold.

The law concerning property co-ownership, and how to deal with a property held under a trust of land, is very complicated. It needs specialist legal advice and support at an early stage. We will explain your options, what will influence the ultimate decision and how we can help you set out your position in the most effective way.

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Discover how our expert dispute resolution lawyers can help you.

Finding evidence to support your case

In this type of dispute having convincing evidence is critical, and your solicitor may have to do a lot of investigating. We are experienced in handling cohabitation disputes, so we know the depth of detail required. For example, we can investigate the title to the property to see how the legal ownership is held and whether  there is an express declaration of trust in place.

We will also investigate exactly how you and your partner agreed to share the property, taking into account how much you each contributed financially, the conversations you had about ownership and any other significant contributions. If the matter does go to court, often such cases are decided based on the credibility of the evidence each party provides. We will work with you to ensure the strength and credibility of your evidence gives you a better chance of success.

How Moore Barlow can help

Putting together the strongest possible case to secure your share may be time-consuming. We will be realistic about costs and help you make an informed decision about going ahead. If you and your ex-partner can agree, then using a dispute resolution process such as mediation, could be the most cost effective and sensible route to avoid the costs and time incurred in court proceedings. We can advise you on this process and guide you through it. If litigation is necessary, however, you can rely on us to provide good value and give you helpful advice on funding the cost of going to court.

Our expert team work across our offices in London, Southampton, Richmond, Guildford, Woking and Lymington and offer specialist advice and support nationwide.

We are here to help

Discover how our expert dispute resolution lawyers can help you.

Further advice…

Funding your dispute when going to court

Look at the different options you have for funding available to you if your case ends up going to court.

Managing the risks involved in a dispute

Make informed decisions on how you will deal with your dispute, by understanding the risks involved.

Contact our dispute resolution team

Don’t take our word for it…