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What Claims Do Unmarried Couples Have On Separation?

The Benefits of the Collaborative Approach to Family Law Disputes

If you are looking to find out what claims do unmarried couples have on separation, then please read this article below:

Claims under Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996

The law that applies to cohabitants is different to the law that applies if you are married. The applicable law is that of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. The law on cohabitants is complicated and the Judge has a wide discretion.

Legal owner and beneficial owner

The legal owner of a property is the person(s) registered at the Land Registry as the proprietor. The beneficial owner of a property is the person(s) entitled to the benefit of the land. There is a presumption that the beneficial interest follows the legal title but this can be rebutted.

Joint owners

There are two ways in which property can be jointly owned – as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common.

If you hold the property as Joint Tenants this means that you each have equal rights to the whole property. If one of you were to die then the property automatically passes to the other under what is called the right of survivorship. This would be the case irrespective of any contrary provision within a Will or under the rules of intestacy.

If you hold the property as Tenants in Common the beneficial ownership is in shares and these shares can be equal or unequal. The property does not automatically go to the other owner if one party dies. You can each pass your share of the property in your Will. If you do not have a Will then the property will pass under the rules of intestacy.

Where the property is registered in joint names and held as Joint Tenants the starting point is 50/50 unless any subsequent intention changes this.

Where the property is registered in joint names and held as Tenants in Common the starting point is what is stated in the Transfer Deed or Declaration of Trust unless any subsequent intention changes this.

The Benefits of the Collaborative Approach to Family Law Disputes

Sole owners

Where the property is registered in one party’s sole name the starting point is that legal owner owns the beneficial interest. There are 4 ways in which the other party can claim an interest:

What factors will a Judge consider?

The Court will consider the following when deciding the claim:

Pre-Action Protocol

Save for limited exceptions, a party has to follow a Pre-Action Protocol before issuing Court proceedings under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. A Pre-Action Protocol sets out the steps the Court would normally expect parties to take before commencing Court proceedings.

Claims under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989

If an unmarried parent has care of a child they could also make a claim under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for a financial contribution. For a Schedule 1 Order to be made there must be a connection between the child and the Respondent. This connection must either be biological or by reference to the Respondent’s married or civil partner status.

The Court can make a Periodical Payments Order. Usually, this is only made in circumstances that fall outside the jurisdiction of the Statutory Child Support Scheme e.g. by reason of a child’s age, an application for educational expenses, an application for expenses connected with the disability of a child.

The Court can make Capital Orders. The Court can make a Lump Sum Order or an Order in relation to property (including Orders for the transfer or settlement of property to either the Applicant for the benefit of the child or to the child themselves).

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Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary.  It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.