Financial & Legal News

Cohabiting couples property rights, 50:50 presumption ends.

  • Posted on

A recent Supreme Court ruling on property rights for unmarried couples will have far reaching effects upon millions of unmarried couples who jointly own a property.

By Family Legal Executive, Tracy Crompton.

In the case of Jones v Kernot, the judgment handed down gave 90% of the house to a woman who had paid the entire mortgage for the past 13 years.

The law has, until now, stated that if a cohabiting couple own a property jointly, then even after a long period of separation both parties are still entitled to an equal share of the value of that property. This was because the legal presumption was that unless there is legal documentation changing that presumption, then that is what must be followed.

In the Jones v Kernot  case, there was no legal document altering the presumption that the couple owned the property equally; the court decided that it was unfair that the partner who left the property should still be entitled to half the value of the house.

I am delighted that the court has, at long last, adopted a common sense approach to these cases where clearly, it prejudices the person who remains in the home to find that many years later, the ex-cohabitee can claim half the value of the home, creating future uncertainty for the partner who remains and in many cases, forcing the occupant to sell their home to provide half the sale proceeds to the ex partner.

All couples need to consider their legal position carefully and take legal advice as to where they stand, particularly when they have not married, preferably before they commit to buying a home together and certainly if they separate to ensure they are clear where they stand legally.

Contact us

For advice on the implications of this judgment, please contact Tracy Crompton in Pearson Hinchliffe’s Family Law department using the details provided below.

To speak to a member of the Family Law deaprtment regarding any matter connected with this article, including preparation of cohabitation agreements, please contact Tracy Crompton using the details provided below.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

    How can we help?

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.