Separation Property Disputes for Unmarried Couples

Attwells Solicitors are Property Law experts. We routinely help clients with property disputes, including unmarried couples who previously shared a home.

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What is a TOLATA claim?

The Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, otherwise known as TOLATA, gives ex-partners limited rights over property and allows them to take their property dispute to court. Due to the complex nature of this area of law, we would always recommend seeking legal advice.

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TOLATA Claims - Separation Property Disputes

Ex-Partner Property Disputes

It is often assumed that co-habiting couples benefit from a common-law marriage however, this is not the case. While we never wish for them, breakdowns in relationships can occur and, in these circumstances, we can ensure that the correct steps and procedures are followed to protect your interest in your home.

If when you purchase a home together you do so without the benefits of a Deed of Trust, you’ll own the property as ‘Joint Tenants’. This means that each of you will hold your own 50%. In this situation, a Transfer of Equity would be needed. This will transfer one of the parties’ interests to the other so that one party has the full 100% interest in the property.

However, if you move in with a partner who owns a property you will need to make a TOLATA claim. In a TOLATA claim evidence will need to be presented to the court to prove that you have been regularly contributing to the financial upkeep of the property, such as paying the household bills or contributing to the mortgage.

Important factors in the strength of a claim are:

  1. How long you have been contributing?
  2. The amount that has been contributed.
  3. The frequency of the contribution.

For example, contributions for less than 2 years with no paper trail are less likely to win in court than a claim with 10 years of contributions with records.

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What can courts decide?

In a TOLATA claim the courts can decide on; the ownership of the property, who holds what share, and who can remain in the property.

What is the process and timeframe for making a TOLATA claim?

It is difficult to give an idea of the timeframe for a TOLATA claim as it varies in a case-by-case basis. It depends on the personal circumstances of the parties, the complexity of the claim, and how willing both parties are to negotiate.

However, from the initial instruction of Attwells, we will carry out a case assessment and provide you with a letter of advice within 10 working days.

Who will act on my behalf?

TOLATA claims are handled by our Litigation Team overseen by Will Oakes. He is a partner at Attwells and his team is made up of a Senior Solicitor, Solicitors, and Paralegals

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Will Oakes