Considerations when selling a home after a same-sex relationship breakdown
10 June 2021 by Guest Author
Ending a relationship whilst living together can be difficult. This can be compounded when property ownership is involved. Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, the FJG Family Law team discusses how can you make sure you’re being treated fairly? And how can a Solicitor help?
What are the different types of homeownership same-sex couples may have? What rights to the home does this give each party?
The nature of co-ownership is the same for same-sex as that of opposite-sex couples. There are ‘Joint Beneficial Tenants’ which means their interest is not defined in shares, and they essentially both own the whole of the property. The presumption on sale is 50/50. There are also ‘Tenants In Common’ where you can define your shares. If married or in a civil partnership, other legal rights may arise around interest in the property.
If the home is in one party’s name but the other party has made financial contributions, are they entitled to any equity in the home? Does this apply if they are not in a civil partnership?
The non-owning partner may have an interest in the property and they should seek legal advice as this can be quite complex. If the parties are married or in a civil partnership, the non-owning partner has a potential claim against the property arising out of the fact they were civil partners and it is an asset of their relationship.
What is an ‘occupation order’ and how can it impact separating couples selling a home?
This is a court order that dictates who should live in a property or any part of it. These orders tend only to be made in cases involving domestic abuse. It may enable one party the safety to remain in the property whilst the sale is being dealt with.
Is it best to sell a home before or after a civil partnership dissolution, or divorce, is finalised?
It is best to always ensure you get legal advice before reaching any agreement. It is also advisable to ensure you have a court order in place setting out any financial settlement before a property is sold and the monies are split to ensure no one changes their mind.
If a separating partner refuses to contribute to the mortgage or household expenses after the relationship ends, will they forfeit any rights to equity?
It does not, however, the residing partner may be able to make an equitable accounting claim, which means that they will receive credit for the non-residing partner’s share of the payments.
If separating partners cannot reach an agreement when dealing with equity shares of a house, how can a Solicitor help?
A Solicitor advises as to their legal position and the options available to them to resolve their settlement. This could be by a referral to mediation (or other alternative dispute resolution), a letter of proposal, a letter endeavouring to negotiate, or representing on an application to the Court. A Solicitor can advise on what would be considered fair by the Court and can give specific advice to an individual’s case, following an exchange of financial disclosure.