The ownership of a property is determined by the title deeds or the records held by the Land Registry relating to the property in question. In matrimonial law, the Family Court has the power to adjust rights in relation to property and the beneficial ownership. However, where a cohabitant was neither engaged to be married nor a party to a civil partnership, he or she must apply to the court for a declaration of a resulting, implied, or constructive trust in his or her favour and has to rely on principles of land law. Alternatively, if there are children from the relationship, a claim may be brought for financial provision to be made for the benefit of the parties’ child under the Children Act. Such claims by the non-owning cohabitant are fact specific and the courts are encouraged to look at the behaviour of the parties when considering whether they had a shared intention.

The following matters are often relevant in these proceedings:

  • The background of the relationship.
  • The history of the acquisition of the property.
  • The agreement or the arrangement which the parties had as to ownership, including the reasons for a particular agreement and the words used in such discussions.
  • The financial arrangements between the parties both at the time of acquisition and subsequently.
  • The contribution made both in money and money’s worth as well as contribution to improvements to the property, if any.
  • Details of any sacrifices made in reliance on promises or assurances made by the owning cohabitant.

If you do have further queries surrounding this or wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact our Family team.

COVID-19: In these extraordinary times we recognise how difficult it is to find time to do everything, let alone seek legal advice. This is especially the case where you are living with your partner or spouse and are considering separating, or have your children with you during the day.

Therefore, we are now able to offer flexible telephone appointments to meet your personal needs, whether that is in the evenings, early mornings or weekends as well as our usual office hours. If making that initial call to book an appointment is difficult please email us at in the first instance and we can arrange a meeting by email.