If you chose to live together as if you were married but without being married you may find sorting out issues upon separation challenging.  There is no law specifically designed to help separating co habitants. You have to rely on the law of contract and the law of trusts.

Where the family home is in joint names

The terms of ownership may be in a Deed of Trust or an Express Declaration of Trust on the purchase deed. Problems can arise if they are not:

  • The starting point where a family home is bought in joint names is that you own the property as joint tenants in law and equity
  • That presumption can be displaced by evidence that your common intention was, in fact, different either when the property was purchased or later
  • Common intention is to be objectively inferred from the conduct and dealings of the parties
  • Where it is clear you had a different intention at the outset or changed your original intentions, but it is not possible to infer an actual intention as to the respective shares, then the Court is entitled to impute an intention that each is entitled to the share which the Court considers fair having regard to the whole course of dealing between them in relation to the property
  • Each case will turn on its own facts; financial contributions are relevant but there are many other factors which may enable the Court to decide what shares were intended or fair

Where the family home is only in one name

The other party may have to prove a resulting, implied or constructive Trust to establish a beneficial interest in the property.

This is a specialised area of law where experience is vital to assist you.  You might think the law is simple and straight forward.  It is not and you need expert legal advice in these circumstances.  Contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our expert Lawyers.