Court awards woman a share of former partner’s home

A woman has won the right to claim part ownership of the home she shared with her former partner and helped to pay for over several years.

The case involved an unmarried couple who had lived together for 15 years. The house was in the partner’s name and was bought with an interest only mortgage. The woman contributed £200 a month, which the couple considered as being “towards the house”.

When the relationship ended, the woman claimed part ownership of the home, even though it was in the partner’s name. He objected and claimed that her contributions were merely rent and did not give her any right to ownership.

The court found in favour of the woman. The judge accepted her evidence that her contribution was needed to enable her partner to pay the mortgage and that her payments “towards the house” meant “towards ownership of the house”.

The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision. The evidence showed that from the outset, the woman had been told that her payments were necessary if the house was to be kept. If she had been told that her payments were not towards an interest in the house, she would not have made them.

Disputes like this are not uncommon when relationships between cohabiting couples break down.

Many people reduce the risk of conflict by drawing up living together agreements. These are straightforward documents that set down their financial arrangements and outline what should happen if the relationship ends.

The documents can provide peace of mind for both partners and help put their relationship on a more solid foundation.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

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