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Separated, unmarried couple? What about the house?

Relationship breakdowns are difficult and traumatic for everyone involved.  They can be made worse when your rights regarding any property you own are unclear and unwritten and you could find yourself involved in lengthy court proceedings to resolve the issues.

The rights of co habiting, unmarried couples are a hot subject at the moment due to a Supreme Court judgement that took place in November 2011.  In the case of Jones v Kernott, the interest of the unmarried couple in their property where the legal title was held in joint names with no express statement of how it was to be shared if they separated was in question.

Miss Jones and Mr Kernott had two children together and purchased a property in joint names in 1995 using money from the sale of Miss Jones house as a deposit.

They shared the mortgage and upkeep on the property until their separation.  After which Miss Jones continued to live in the property and had been solely responsible for its mortgage and upkeep for over twelve years after their split.

Years of court battles ensued and following her appeal, it was ruled by the Supreme Court that Miss Jones was entitled to retain 90% of the equity in the property previously jointly owned with her former partner, Mr Kernott.  This was a change from the 50% entitlement prescribed by the property law.

Although this decision was very case specific, it does show that the law has begun to move forward to allow the courts to reach a view about what the parties intended and what a fair outcome should look like.

Obviously, at the beginning of a relationship, no one wants to discuss how things like property should be divvied up should they spilt, but a conversation followed by some kind of legal paperwork should be considered at some point.  Particularly if one of the partners has put in a substantial amount of money individually for deposits or improvements.  It could save a lot of time, heartache, expense and stress if things do go wrong.

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  1. Carol says:

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.

  2. Maggie says:

    This is useful info – you are right – its not a conversation we necessarily want to have at the beginning of a relationship, but as we all get older, more often we do individually bring more to a partnership and this should be recognised somehow.

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