It can be difficult to come to terms with the breakdown of a relationship, particularly when you are unmarried and your financial future is uncertain. Our specialist family solicitors are highly experienced and are on hand to assist with any TOLATA Disputes.

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:

  • An order which determines what share of a property each party owns
  • An order forcing the sale of land or property
  • An order enabling one party to regain access to a property when the other party refuses to leave
  • An order enabling third parties, such as parents or grandparents, to recover their financial interest in a property owned by the separating couple

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.

The Process

  1. Instruct us for advice and assistance with the dispute.
  2. Apply to the Court for your case to be heard by completing a court form with a written statement in support of the claim and pay the court fees.
  3. Name the defendants in the case who are the owners or other persons with an interest in the property. Each of these people must be served with the proceedings.
  4. The defendants must file an Acknowledgment of Service Form form and provide written evidence within 14 days.
  5. Once the Acknowledgment of Service Form is filed, the Court will fix a hearing for directions.
  6. At the Directions Hearing, the District Judge will consider what additional Orders for discovery need to be made (each party must disclose to the other party all relevant information and documentation), for the filing of evidence and the future conduct of the case, as well as fixing the timetable for the final hearing.
  7. The matter will then be adjourned for the final preparation of the case and then listed for a final hearing. The final hearing will not be for some months after the Directions Hearing.

Factors Which the Court Will Consider

Under TOLATA, the Judge must consider the following issues when deciding on a claim:

  • The intentions of the parties in relation to ownership of the property
  • The purpose for which the property was acquired
  • The welfare of any child who has their home in the property
  • The claim of any secured creditor (such as a mortgagee) or any other person or organisation with a claim to the property

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
fulltime education.

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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People rely on us, and we pride ourselves on our client-centered advocacy and representation.

Why Choose Us?

Our solicitors are experts in TOLATA disputes and so are ideally positioned to help you to secure your rights over property.

How to Get in Contact

Please call us on 01234 350 244 or email us at info@dvsolicitors.com for further information
and advice about our services. We will happily provide you with a free initial
discussion about your individual circumstances.
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