I Have Split Up With My Partner – What Am I Entitled To?
Splitting from a partner is a stressful experience, intensified by the important practical issues that need to be resolved. Are you entitled to half of the house? Are you entitled to any ongoing financial support from your ex-partner? Will you still be able to see your children? Understandably, the question, ‘I have split up with my partner – what am I entitled to?’ is one which our expert family law solicitors deal with regularly. Here, they give a general overview of the legal position of unmarried individuals who have split from their partner. The outcome of any case turns on its facts, and the law relating to spouses and civil partners is starkly different to that explained below, so it is important to take specialist legal advice to ascertain how the law applies to your circumstances.
“I was delighted by the prompt response and the friendly helpful service we received. Thank you.”
I Have Split Up With My Partner – What Am I Entitled To In Terms Of Property?
Your rights over any property you shared as a couple depend on how the property is owned.IIf the property is jointly owned, you are both entitled to continue living there. Obviously, this is often not an ideal solution when a relationship ends, so most couples opt to deal with their property by either selling it and splitting the proceeds, or one buying the other out.
If the property is owned by one partner in their sole name, the non-owning partner’s legal rights are limited. The Matrimonial Homes legislation, which allows married couples and civil partners going through a divorce or dissolution to remain in the matrimonial home until their separation is finalised, does not apply to unmarried couples. This means that the non-owning partner might be forced to leave the property, unless they can identify a legal basis upon which to assert a beneficial interest.
Non-owning partners wishing to assert rights over the property they shared with their ex-partner can sometimes find assistance from a little-known statute called the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act, more commonly known as TOLATA. Under TOLATA, anybody with a beneficial interest in a property can claim a share of it. The law is invoked most often by unmarried couples, but it relates to all beneficial owners.
The deciding factor in any TOLATA claim is the parties’ intentions. Even if it would be fair and just for you to be awarded a share of the property, a Judge cannot do so unless you can demonstrate that you and your partner intended the property to be owned jointly. The types of evidence that might help establish a claim under TOLATA include showing that you funded considerable house renovations (over and above general DIY) or paid the mortgage.
I Have Split Up With My Partner – What Am I Entitled To In Terms Of Maintenance?
Unmarried couples have no financial obligations towards each other when they separate. So, even if you depended on your partner financially for the duration of your relationship, you have no legal entitlement to ongoing maintenance.
I have split up with my partner – what am I entitled to in terms of our children?
Spouses and civil partners have joint parental responsibility for their children. However, if the parents are unmarried, the mother has sole parental responsibility unless one of the following circumstances applies:
- The parents register the birth jointly and name the father on the birth certificate.
- The father obtains a parental responsibility agreement, which is a fairly straightforward process if the mother is amenable.
- The father goes to Court and obtains a parental responsibility Order.
A common misconception is that somebody with parental responsibility for a child has an automatic right to see and spend time with them. Whilst parental responsibility entitles you to a say in important decisions relating to the child, it does not give automatic access rights.
If the parents cannot agree on how the child’s time should be split, the non-resident parent must seek a ‘Child Arrangements Order’ from the Court. As is the case with all matters concerning children, the Court will decide the issue based on what would be in the child’s best interests. In most cases, this is deemed to be the child having a relationship with, and seeing, both parents.
Of course, both parents remain responsible for their child’s financial maintenance.
Whilst the answer to the question, ‘I have split up with my partner – what am I entitled to?’ depends on your circumstances, it is clear that the law does not afford unmarried couples the same rights as it affords to those who are married or in civil partnerships. The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ rings true, and it is advisable for unmarried couples to proactively put in place measures to ensure the fair division of assets should their relationship end, and minimise the likelihood of protracted conflict. Such measures might include having open and honest discussions with your partner regarding property ownership and access rights to children and documenting your intentions by way of a Cohabitation Agreement. Our family law solicitors can advise on the best course of action and put the appropriate arrangements in place. If your relationship has ended and you need help in understanding and enforcing your rights, our family law team will devise the best and most cost-effective strategy and execute it on your behalf, providing expert guidance every step of the way.
“Nothing could be improved with the service. Extremely satisfied.”