Many unmarried couples jointly own a character together. Should they decide to divided up in the future the courts will decide how the proceeds of the character sale will be shared between them. It has generally been assumed, in the absence of a deed of trust, that no account of needs or financial commitment of either partner is considered. This generally results in an equal proportion between the associate.
Don’t assume an equal proportion
However, in a recent landmark legal decision in the Uk, where no formal agreement about who owns what proportion of the character had been made, the Supreme Court did in fact take into account the reality of who truly paid to buy and continue the character. This represents a meaningful change to the way the law is applied when unmarried couples separate. From now on, already though the character may be jointly owned in equal shares by both parties, factors such as who has paid the mortgage, running costs and general upkeep of the character will now be considered when deciding how the proceeds of sale are apportioned in the event of a separation.
As a consequence of this change, unmarried couples now have far more rights to negotiate their proportion of jointly owned character if their relationship breaks down. However, whilst the Supreme Court’s decision may go some way to addressing the injustices inherent in the current law, it does so at the cost of certainty and is likely to rule to more litigation as separating co-owners fight for a fair proportion of their character where a formal declaration of trust has not been before prepared.
Act now to avoid involving the Courts
With more than 2 million unmarried couples in the UK it is important that they take steps now to protect themselves should a separation occur in the future. Going to Court to sort out claims on how a character is to be shared is a very expensive, stressful and often drawn out affair. already with legal fees often running into thousands there are nevertheless no guarantees of fair treatment. This recent Supreme Court decision consequently emphasises that it is basic for unmarried couples to agree beforehand how their character should be divided in the event of a possible, future breakup. This can be achieved by setting up a deed of trust which is a legal document detailing the agreement of both parties concerning how the character proceeds of sale are to be shared. A proper deed of trust will need to be drafted by a solicitor however, it should cost no more than a few hundred pounds and will save thousands on court fees should a separation occur in the future.