Property rights when unmarried couples separate…

When married couples separate, most of the issues between them are resolved by family lawyers pursuant to family laws, such as the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Family laws, however, do not apply when unmarried couples separate.

One of the biggest issues for the separating unmarried couple is their interest in and right to occupy the home they had previously enjoyed as a couple.

Whether court proceedings are to be issued or not, the law relating to this issue is the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 known often as TOLATA. This gives the Court certain powers to resolve disputes as to the ownership and residence.

A person claiming an interest in a property can apply to the court under the above Act for a number of reasons, such as : –

  • To seek an order for sale;
  • To determine the parties’ interest in the property and proceeds of sale; and
  • To reoccupy a former home when an ex-partner refuses to leave.

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