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Cohabitant loses appeal for half share of house

Disputes often arise between cohabiting couples who have no legal agreement about how their assets should be divided if their relationship breaks down and they separate.

In a recent case, a man found that he was not entitled to a half share in the house where he had lived with his partner.

The woman in the case had entered a property as a local authority tenant. The man moved in later and they had two children together. The couple then tried to buy the property in their joint names but a financial adviser told them they would be unable to get a mortgage because of the man's poor employment history.

The woman therefore secured a mortgage and bought the properly solely in her own name. She then took sole responsibility for the mortgage and various other outgoings. The man would sometimes contribute up to 100 a week for the children and housekeeping.

When the relationship broke down, the man claimed a half share in the house. The district court judge rejected his claim saying that the couple had only been able to buy the house because of the woman's financial discipline.

He said that although the couple had intended to buy the house together, they had not considered whether they should own in it equal shares or in some other proportion. The judge decided therefore that it should be divided 9010 in favour of the woman.

The Court of Appeal has now upheld that decision saying that the judge had acted correctly.

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