Are you in a relationship, living together, but not married so not sure about your legal/financial position? Our family team wish to support you and offer some practical and legal advice below.

I am not married – we just co-habit but I’m not mentioned on the title to the property although I pay my way – we don’t like to talk about money.

If you fall into the above category the law can actually be complicated if your relationship breaks down and you then decide to pursue your partner for your share which you believe rightfully belongs to you. Anything from contributing to an installation of a bathroom, paying towards the mortgages and bills, renovations works to the property, agreeing to look after someone forever – how do you get someone who you shared everything with to pay you a fair share?The law that covers this area is Trust Law – it is complex and not straight forward. The Trust of Land and Trustees Act 1996 sets out the Court’s powers – however, these powers are quite slim and whilst it has power to make an order for sale of the property; make a declaration of the parties beneficial interest and make compensatory orders, the jurisdiction of the Court on the face of it is to declare what the parties intended. As such you will need to evidence the monies that have been contributed and seek to evidence the intention was that this was part of the contribution to the financial ownership of the property of which you are now seeking a share

Find receipts , bank statements , notes or emails/texts sent about the arrangements , but more so it’s good to talk. A lawyer will be able to go through these and assess what you might be able to claim.
So if its not too late please talk about these issues – money is part of any relationship. They are real issues and if you get caught up by them it could have a dramatic impact on your finances never mind the emotional turmoil you will find yourself in. We will always try to seek an agreement / resolution but if this is not possible we can represent you through a court claim.

Early days is a pre-nup worth while?

If you are at the beginning or the relationship or just moved in why not consider a pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership if you one day might become married so your financial intentions can be documented for everyone’s comfort and understanding ?

Despite the fact these are not strictly legally binding, they are very persuasive and courts are more inclined to follow the terms and be influenced with agreed intentions formalised in this way. It supports what you intended at the outset which is key for more separation/trust cases. It sets the financial boundaries of your relationship. You can also agree if your relationship breaks down how you are going to deal with it. You may have heard of “Conscious Uncoupling / Co-Parenting after separation” you may wish to set this out in your agreement – as to how your see it when your relationship is in a good position.

If you do not currently have any intention to marry/have a civil partnership you can still have a co-habitation agreement which will record your intentions. Some of the wider issues will be – how can we deal with our joint assets should we split up, our advice is to get formal legal advice. Everyone’s assets differ and legal advice given to a friend may differ to the legal advice you receive.

Have children, can this complicate matters?

Under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989 the court has the power to make arrangements that one parent is to benefit from financial support from another to ensure that the needs of a child or children are met. To determine this the court will look at things like:

  • Income of each parent
  • The current parent’s responsibilities — such as other children
  • The child’s financial requirements
  • Needs of the child may be if disabled, education needs for example

In most circumstances, there will be the main carer for a child and they can make a claim for child support — money to be provided for the day-to-day care of the child. This is calculated by the Child Maintenance Service. Other than this a voluntary childcare arrangement can be agreed with your ex-partner.

What the Court Can Award

The mind of the court is usually is that a child has a place to live. So it can determine residency, rent and house ownership or sales. The court may also award periodical payments to meet the costs of a child’s disability or to go towards school fees. The disclosure, calculation and what is best can be a complex matter for parents and the courts.

If a parents application is unsuccessful, that parent may be required to pay their own legal costs and those of their ex-partner. This makes it vital to consult a specialist family law solicitor experienced in supporting unmarried parents with children, including making the claims and initiating the proceedings.