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Living with a partner who owns a house: what are your rights?

Friday April 5, 2024

Family Law

Living with a partner who owns a house can bring both joy and complexity to a relationship, especially when considering the legal implications. Whether you’re part of an unmarried or married couple in Devon, understanding the rights each partner holds in such scenarios is crucial. 

From our solicitors specialising in family law here in Plymouth, this blog aims to shed light on common concerns and provide you with essential guidance.

Legal Considerations for Unmarried Couples

If you’re an unmarried couple living together and one partner owns the property, you don’t automatically have rights to the property if the relationship ends. Unlike married couples, the law does not entitle cohabiting partners to claim ownership of each other’s assets in the event of a breakup. This situation could leave one partner particularly vulnerable, especially if they have been financially contributing to the home.

How to protect your interests

Identifying whether you have a legitimate claim for clinical negligence involves establishing two key elements:

1. Declaration of Trust

If you’re contributing to the mortgage payments or renovations, consider entering into a Declaration of Trust. This legal document explicitly states each partner’s share in the property, providing clear evidence of your financial contributions and the agreement regarding ownership percentages.

2. Cohabitation Agreement

Also known as a living together agreement, a cohabitation agreement outlines who pays for what during the relationship, and arrangements regarding the property should the relationship end. It can include details on mortgage payments, household bills, and maintenance costs.

Rights of Married Couples

Married couples enjoy more legal protection compared to their unmarried counterparts. Regardless of whose name is on the deeds, both partners have a ‘home right’ under the Family Law Act 1996, which grants them the legal right to stay in the matrimonial home unless a court order states otherwise.

Ensuring Fair Distribution

In the event of a divorce, the courts will strive for a fair distribution of assets, including property. Factors considered include the welfare of any children, each partner’s financial resources and needs, and contributions made by each spouse during the marriage.

Navigating Complex Situations

Certain situations can add complexity, such as one partner moving into a property previously owned by the other or both partners paying the mortgage despite only one name being on the deed. In these instances, the court’s decision, should the matter reach litigation, will hinge on evidence of intended ownership shares and the couple’s overall financial arrangements.

The Importance of Legal Advice

Given the complexities surrounding property rights for couples in Devon, securing legal advice from a solicitor specialising in family law is paramount. Our team is well-versed in navigating these issues and can provide you with tailored advice to protect your interests and ensure clarity and peace of mind for both partners.

Taking proactive steps to understand and legally formalise your property arrangements can prevent unnecessary stress and conflict should the relationship face challenges. Our solicitors are here to guide you through the options available, ensuring you make informed decisions that reflect your circumstances and intentions.

In summary, living with a partner who owns a house in Devon presents unique legal considerations, differing significantly between married and unmarried couples. Awareness and prepared planning are essential to safeguard your rights and secure your future, regardless of how relationships may unfold.

For personalised advice and assistance, our family law specialists in Plymouth are at your service. Contact us to explore your options and take the first step towards legal certainty in your living situation.

Given the complexities surrounding property rights for couples in Devon, securing legal advice from a solicitor specialising in family law is paramount.