Co-ownership/Co-habitation Dispute

Co-ownership/Co-habitation claims are nothing new. In fact, they are on the increase. However, one particular case has attracted the interest of the national press. Here is a link to The Daily Telegraph’s article reporting on the case.

The facts of the case, whilst surprising to some, will not come as a surprise to those of us who often become involved in these types of cases.

Miss Cahill and Mr Farrer were in a relationship for over 10 years. They had 3 children together. In 2007, Mr Farrer purchased a property but it was registered in Miss Cahill’s sole name. When the relationship ended, Mr Farrer claimed that the property, although legally registered to Miss Cahill, was in fact his and was put in Ms Cahill’s sole name to make it easier to get a mortgage. Ms Cahill denied this, arguing that the property was registered in her sole name to provide her with financial security as Mr Farrer refused to marry her. Without the property being in her name, she would be left with nothing if the relationship came to an end.

The Court ruled against Mr Farrer and confirmed that the property was undoubtedly Ms Cahill’s. As a result, not only is Ms Cahill entitled to the net proceeds of sale but Mr Farrer was ordered to pay her legal fees, which are likely to run into the tens of thousands, if not more.

Tim Watson, a solicitor experienced in dealing with Co-ownership/Co-habitation claims such as this one, explains:

“This case should serve as a reminder of two things. First, anybody who seeks to argue that the legal ownership of property does not reflect the true position (known as a sole name case) faces a very difficult task in proving it. Secondly, the law in this area needs urgent reform to protect couples who live together but who are not married. Had this couple been married, the dispute would not have arisen as Miss Cahill’s financial position would have been protected by matrimonial law.”

If you would like to discuss an issue relating to family law, please email Andrew Woo on andrew.woo@bhrlaw.co.uk or contact him on 01237 427505.

To return to the news page please click here.