News & Insights

Cohabiting Couples: Protecting your Interests

Many people are not aware that cohabiting couples do not have the same rights and benefits as married couples. Their relationship may function in the same way as a marriage.

In the recent case of Graham-York v York [2015] EWCA Civ 72, Miss Graham-York had been in a relationship with Mr York since 1976 and began living together in a property purchased in the sole name of Mr York, until 2009 when Mr York sadly passed away. The couple had two children together who are now adults. After Mr York’s death in 2009, Miss Graham-York continued living in the property and accrued large mortgage arrears. Miss Graham-York was required to give possession however, she contested the claim arguing that she had a beneficial interest as there was a constructive trust based on common intention.

The judge found that due to Miss Graham-York’s domestic contributions (as she had made little to no financial contributions), she only had a 25% interest in the property. Miss Graham-York argued that she was entitled to 50% however the Court held that “where a property is held in one of the party’s sole name and there is no common intention in relation to the proportions in which the beneficial interest should be held, there is no starting point of equality as there is in marriage.” 

If you are a cohabiting couple, you may want to take steps in protecting your interests. For instance:

–       Drawing up a Cohabitation Agreement, setting out what financial contributions have been made and how they are to be divided should you separate;

–       If you are buying a home and are purchasing the property as tenants in common, you may wish to have a Deed of Trust prepared which records what interest each party has in the property.

Please contact Lynn Gooch on 020 8502 3991 for more information.