If you are in a cohabiting relationship that breaks down, a dispute may arise over a property owned by you jointly, or owned in the sole name of one of the parties to the relationship.
There are two elements of ownership to a property – legal ownership and ownership of the beneficial interest. The beneficial interest is also referred to as the equity in the property.
If the legal title to a property is held in joint names, the beneficial interest in the property will also usually be held equally unless there is evidence to rebut this presumption. If the legal title to a property is held in the sole name of one party, the beneficial interest may still be held jointly.
At Butcher and Barlow, the Family Law team, working with the Residential Property team can advise on all scenarios relating to jointly owned property, advise upon your potential interest in a property, and assist in resolving any dispute that arises regarding your interest in a property.
Wherever possible, we will try to assist you to reach an agreement through correspondence, or mediation, to try to avoid the additional costs and stress that can be incurred in court proceedings. However, we recognise that not all cases are capable of agreement without court proceedings and, if court proceedings are issued, we are able to advise and represent you at all stages of the proceedings.
Once an agreement has been reached, or an court order has been made, our specialist Residential Property team will be able to assist in implementing the terms of any agreement or court order in relation to the property.
An important factor to note is that if a property is held in joint names, the beneficial interest in a property can be held in two ways, either as joint tenants, or as tenants in common. The way in which the beneficial interest is held has implications for inheritance purposes. Our Wills & Trusts team will work in conjunction with the family team to advise you on such issues.