When unmarried couples separate
You may have heard of something called a ‘Tolata’ claim. Tolata is a piece of legislation which helps a court to decide how to divide property between couples who have lived together without being married.
It is very common these days for couples to live together and not to get married or enter into a civil partnership. Some couples believe their partner is their ‘common law husband/wife/partner’, but, unfortunately, the law does not recognise any such relationship.
At some point in their relationship, the couple buy a property together, perhaps in both their names, perhaps in the name of just one of them. Sadly, the time comes when the couple no longer wish to be together, and the question arises: how should the asset – their home – be divided?
This is a highly specialised area of the law and there are many factors for a court to consider:
Was the property bought in both names or just one name?
Did the parties buy as joint tenants or tenants in common?
Did both contribute to the cost of the property?
Did one party act to his/her detriment (for example by undertaking building works)?
Did the parties declare their intentions as to their respective shares of the property?
Are there children under 18 years of age?
An application can me made to the court to do one of the following:
Order the property to be sold;
Decide the share of each partner;
Enable one of the parties to continue living in the property
The above are just a few examples of what a court can do. It is very important before starting legal action that the parties go through the proper protocol, including writing the all important preaction letter. Sometimes, litigation can be avoided through mediation and other forms of negotiation.
At Winrow Solicitors, we have successfully acted for our clients’ best interests in cohabitation claims, ensuring that our clients’ obtained their rightful share of the family home.