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Finances when cohabitates have a child

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The Legal 500 2019

Finances when cohabitates have a child

The courts approach to cohabitees’ finances alters where there are children. The court’s first consideration on looking at the financial requirements for the child is the child’s welfare.

If the cohabitees cannot reach an agreement concerning maintenance for the child then an application to the Child Support Agency may be made. However the court may be asked to make an additional maintenance award above the level determined by the CSA. This may happen where the parent not living with the child has a particularly high salary or if there are for example specific educational needs of a child.

When an unmarried couple without children separate and they both seek to obtain their share of a property, the law is concerned with the intentions as to the ownership of that property. When there are children involved, however the court considers whether or not a lump sum payment should be made for the benefit of the child. The most pressing need would be housing for the child and normally the court will look at the financial circumstances of the parties and then determine whether or not money should be made available to acquire a property to house a child.

If you require further information or advice on these issues then it would help us if you could give following additional information:

  • Full names of your child/ren and their dates of birth.
  • The current housing situation of you, your child/ren and your cohabitee.
  • Details of the schools at which the child/ren attend.
  • The likely cost of buying/renting in your current area, the catchment area of the school or where you may wish to live with the child/ren, if your child/ren will be living with you after you are separated.

Whereas when married couples separate the court can make an order it believes is fair and reasonable for the parties when looking at their overall circumstances, the approach taken towards separating unmarried couples is far more restrictive. The law relating to cohabitees’ property predominantly derives from the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act. As a general approach the Courts will be interested in trying to clarify who owns what property and whether or not this properly reflects the intentions of ownership.

If you wish us to advise you on your position it would be helpful if you would provide us with the following information and documents:-

  • Details of the ownership of any land or assets owned.
  • Discussions that took place prior and after the purchase.
  • Details as to who paid the deposit.
  • Full details of who paid the mortgage payments.
  • Details of any additional contribution made by you, for example, towards the property, e.g. funding or carrying out of the renovation of the property.
  • Details of the solicitors who acted in the purchase of any such property.
  • If you are renting a property, whether it is rented from the council or a private landlord and the amount of rent that is paid each week and whether the rental agreement is in your sole name, joint names or in the name of your cohabitee.

Unlike when married couples separate, cohabitees are not entitled to receive or obliged to pay maintenance to each other except for the benefit of children.

Written by Andrew Watson and Lisa Pepper

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