Law Management Blog

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RIGHTS FOR COHABITEES

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The Supreme Court is currently considering a case involving a previously cohabiting couple who split up nearly twenty years ago.

The dispute involves ownership of the former couple’s shared home, which they purchased as joint owners with a joint mortgage, in 1993. After the man moved out, the woman took responsibility for the entire mortgage payments and lived in the house with the couple’s two children.

However, the couple have been in disagreement ever since about their entitlement to the property. Earlier court decisions held that the majority of the property’s value should go to the woman who had maintained and funded it following the separation. However, the Court of Appeal ruled last year that the man should be entitled to half of its value as he had been a joint owner at the time of the separation. This is the normal position where married couples are concerned.

The final decision now lies with the Supreme Court, which has yet to give its judgment. This is awaited with interest by many people as the issues raised are ones which are the subject of current uncertainty. Firstly, cohabitees are currently unable to ask the court to regulate their finances following a separation, unlike married couples. Secondly, it is currently unclear whether a court will intervene to re-adjust the parties’ shares in jointly owned property, where the conduct of the parties has shown that they should not be equal. As these are complicated issues it is thought that the final judgment may take some time.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

May 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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