Family Law Specialist

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Cheadle, Stockport,
Greater Manchester

Family Law & Finances

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Nicola Williams Solicitor

financial family law for individuals and families

Claiming a share of a partner’s property

Claiming a share of a partner’s property is possible if you have either

made a financial contribution; or

have been promised a share and have acted to your own detriment in relying on that promise.

This article focuses on situation where only one partner owns the property.

If you want to know about unequal shares in property you own together, look at my page on deed of trust.

claiming a share of a partner's property a house made of bank notes

Title deeds and ownership

Every transfer of property in England and Wales must be registered with the Land registry.

The official register will be updated to show the new legal owner/s and details of any mortgages, restrictions and so on.

Beneficial ownership

The legal title to a property often isn’t the full picture.

A property (or a share in it) can be owned legally by one person on behalf of another.

Here’s an example:

Claire and Peter want to buy a flat together.

Claire has had some credit issues in the past and the mortgage lender wants to impose a higher interest rate as a result. They say they will review this in 12 months.

Peter, on the other hand, can raise enough mortgage to buy the flat on his own salary and with a better rate.

Claire and Peter both have £10,000 in savings. They are both working and intend to pay the mortgage equally.

They go ahead and buy the flat in Peter’s sole name. Claire pays her £10,000 to Peter and he pays the deposit in full.

The title deeds only show Peter as the legal owner. But Claire and Peter have a verbal agreement that she will be entitled to half of the equity when the property is sold.

Peter assures Claire that she has a share in the property. Claire believes Peter’s assurances and continues to pay half of the mortgage.

Their agreement is not in writing. There is no written declaration of trust. But nevertheless, Claire can claim an interest in the property.

Financial contributions to family life may still count towards a share of property

Unmarried couples often pool their resources in a similar way to couples who are married.

For example, one might pay the mortgage whilst the other pays for childcare or holidays. They often don’t keep accurate records of who has paid for what.

It can be difficult to distinguish between payments described as ‘rent’ and contributions towards the mortgage that are intended to give the payer a share in the equity.

People are often unaware of the legal rights and obligations that may be evolving over time. The best way to avoid problems is to have a living together agreement.

Family law and unmarried couples

Misunderstandings are common and many couples expect there to be a general type of family law that protects them if a relationship breaks down.

There is, unfortunately, no family law legislation that specifically deals with unmarried couples who live together.

The rules and laws that apply to this type of situation whilst people are alive, are general property and contract laws.

The courts do their best to interpret these laws in a way to achieve fairness for couples who fall out. And the first thing that they will always look for is any documentary evidence of an agreement.

Without a written agreement, such as a deed of trust, it can be very difficult to prove who owns what.

This can be stressful and very expensive if you go to court.

Providing for an unmarried partner if you die

The rules of intestacy apply after death without a will and there is no provision in them for an unmarried partner.

In limited cases a claim can be made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act.

If you want to be sure you have provided for your unmarried partner, make a will.

Claiming a share of a partner’s property through court proceedings.

Claiming a share of a partner’s property through court is a last resort.

Disputes between families are stressful and destructive.

The outcome may be uncertain, and it can take a year or more to conclude.

However, there may be times when you feel you have no choice.

If you are reading this and want to find out where you stand, get in touch and I will let you know whether I can help.

Citizens Advice

You can find out more about the difference between living together and marriage on the Citizens Advice website.

They recommend that you have a living together agreement. A cohabitation agreement is the same thing.

For advice on living together agreements or claiming a share in a partner’s property, get in touch and I will see whether I can help you.

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Nicola Williams is a Family Law Solicitor in the AFG Law Family Team at Cheadle Royal Business Park, Brooks Drive, Manchester, Cheadle SK8 3TD