Q&As

Where a property is registered in the parties’ joint names, the cohabiting relationship breaks down and one party moves out of the property, what options are available to the remaining owner to remove their former cohabitant from the title of the property where the former cohabitant made no financial contribution whatsoever to the property? What can the remaining owner do if their former cohabitant refuses to reply to any communications?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 05/03/2021

The following Family Q&A produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Where a property is registered in the parties’ joint names, the cohabiting relationship breaks down and one party moves out of the property, what options are available to the remaining owner to remove their former cohabitant from the title of the property where the former cohabitant made no financial contribution whatsoever to the property? What can the remaining owner do if their former cohabitant refuses to reply to any communications?

Unlike a marriage, where the court has broad redistributive powers on the making of a decree of divorce, judicial separation or nullity pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, there is limited provision in respect of unmarried cohabitants. The often repeated myth of ‘common law’ husbands and wives having some sort of special status in law is not grounded in fact. Instead, cohabitants must fall back on the law of property and trusts when dealing with jointly owned property on separation and in particular the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA 1996) or, where there is a child of the family, potentially Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989.

Cohabitation in the context of property in joint names has been considered in relatively rec

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