Will my partner get half of the house if we split up?

If you are not married and you split up whether your partner will be able to claim against the house usually depends whose name it is in.

If the property is owned jointly the starting point is that it is shared equally. This is the case regardless of who paid the deposit. Therefore if you are buying a house but you are paying the deposit it is essential that you protect your contribution with a declaration of trust confirming you do not intend to share the property equally.

If your partner is making no contribution towards the purchase and will not be paying the mortgage you should think carefully about whether you include their name on the legal title as you could be gifting them half of the property. There was a case recently where a girlfriend successfully argued for 50% of a £1.7m home despite having made no financial contribution towards it. This was primarily because the property was placed in joint names.

It is always easier to have a conversation about the ownership of property at the start of a relationship when you are both on good terms rather than at the end of a relationship when things have gone sour. Therefore if you are buying a property give some thought as to what you think would be a fair division if you were to separate. Do not assume that your additional financial contribution will be protected without an express declaration to that effect. Our family law team can provide the initial advice in relation to this which could save you thousands of pounds if your relationship ends.

If you are married the starting point is that all property is shared regardless of who owns it. Therefore if you have assets that you wish to protect in the event of a divorce it is essential that you enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial (if you are already married) agreement. Again such agreements can save you thousands of pounds not only in terms of protecting the assets but also by avoiding the legal fees payable for a lengthy court battle to try and preserve assets on a divorce.

For further information or to arrange a free initial telephone consultation, please contact our Family Law Associate Rachel Baker on 01384 340 580 or by email to rbaker@georgegreen.co.uk