Family Law Case Study - Living Together and Buying Property

08 August 2016

Client Situation

The couple had been living together in the UK for 25 years as an unmarried couple. They had had 3 children who were 18, 16 and 12 years old. They bought a property together with the boyfriend contributing towards the deposit with a loan from his parents. The property was placed in the girlfriends name as the boyfriend already had a property in his name. The boyfriend then sold his property and repaid his parents the loan.

Throughout the relationship the boyfriend contributed 100% of all the mortgage repayments and utility bills with the girlfriend remaining at home to look after the children. He would pay this contribution directly into the girlfriends’ bank account and she then had the responsibility of paying the mortgage and all the utility bills. 

The couple never married and the boyfriend never had his name added to the mortgage. Then the couple separated.

How We Helped

The boyfriend wanted to know what rights he had in claiming a portion of the equity that had accumulated in the property during the 25 years they lived together. The girlfriend was claiming that she had a right to receive regular maintenance from him so that she could continue to live in the property.

Our Family Solicitor advised him that because the property was in the girlfriends’ name, she was the legal and beneficial owner of the property. The money that he was transferring into her account each month was essentially akin to his board and lodgings with a portion of that going towards the mortgage. She bared all of the responsibility for paying the mortgage and his monthly contribution allowed him to enjoy the benefits of that property.

However if he could show evidence that he had contributed towards the deposit then he could make a claim for that amount to be refunded to him along with a claim that he believed that the property was going to be their home forever, and that he should therefore receive a share of accumulated equity.

In respect of the maintenance payments, we advised him that while he was responsible for child maintenance for 2 of the children he was not responsible for maintenance towards the girlfriend.

The Outcome

The couple attended Family Mediation and the matter was resolved in accordance with our legal advice with the boyfriend receiving 25% of the equity in the property.

If the couple had put a Cohabitation Agreement in place when they moved in together, then this could have set out exactly where each person stood financially in the event of separation.

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