Unmarried couples who separate are not protected by the same laws that apply to married couples. This guide gives a brief overview of the law which can assist unmarried couples in respect of property disputes upon the breakdown of their relationship.
Under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA), the court can determine the extent of a person’s interest in a property.
Most of these disputes arise when couples sell their individual properties and buy properties together. These can include residential homes, holiday homes, or commercial premises.
The TOLATA legislation gives the Court the ability to assist in resolving unmarried couples’ property disputes. Under this law, the Court can assist unmarried couples by making orders such as:
This is a complex area of law and you should always seek professional advice. With our legal expertise in dispute resolution, we are well-positioned to give this specialist advice.
Under TOLATA, the Judge must consider the following issues when deciding on a claim:
The court will also consider postponing either the sale of the property or payment of a lump sum from one party to another if it considers it is in the best interests of any children that this is postponed until they have reached the age 18 or have finished
After reading the documents, hearing the evidence and considering the legal arguments, the Judge will give his or her decision. The Judgment will explain the reasons for the decision.
Judgment may be given straight away, although many Judges prefer to take a short time to consider the matter and then give a decision (reserved Judgment).
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