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  Solicitors Bude Cornwall   The Family Home - 14 Jan 2010 Holsworthy Solicitors

Many couples live together as if they were husband and wife or civil partners but have not tied the knot.
  Unfortunately merely living with another person does not necessarily give rise to an interest in the family home.  Many people claim they are Common Law husband or wife but Common Law Marriage does not exist in the eyes of the law.
There are often three situations:
1.            the property was purchased in joint names;
2.            the property was purchased in the sole name of one party during the course of the relationship; or
3.            the property was already owned by one party when the relationship commenced.
When a property is held in joint names the court will look to any agreement made when the property is purchased to determine the parties share.  This is usually written into the transfer deed when purchasing the property.  In the absence of such an agreement the court presumes that the co-owners hold an equal share however they may look at the relationship as a whole to determine whether to deviate from this presumption. 
If a property is purchased during the relationship but held in the sole name of one of the parties the starting point for the court is to look for the direct contributions to the initial purchase of the property.  If both parties contributed funds to the purchase then that contribution usually determines their ownership. 
If there is no direct contribution to the purchase price or the property was purchased before the relationship commenced the court may look for an agreement or understanding in relation to ownership of the property.  The court may uphold the agreement if the party claiming an interest has relied on it.  If there is no agreement the court may look to any direct contributions to the mortgage or other circumstances to determine any ownership. 
As you can see there are many variables and a lack of certainty.  There have been many calls for this area of law to be reformed, however as yet there is little progress.
So what should a couple do when they are buying a property together?  Paul Finn Solicitors will advise you of the suitable ways of holding the property and if necessary stating your contributions to the property. 
If you have separated with your partner and believe you have an interest in a property Paul Finn Solicitors can advise you how best to proceed with any claim.

Paul Finn
Director, Paul Finn Solicitors
Tel: 01288 356 256
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