As we have previously discussed in our blog, the law regarding financial matters between couples who have never married can be complex and often have unfair outcomes. A case in the Court of Appeal yesterday highlights the point. Ms Slater argued before the court that after her partner, Mr Condappa, cheated during their relationship, he promised her that if they ever split up, he would give her his house, worth £230,000, if she would agree to give him a second chance and take him back. When their Relationship Breakdown occured 6 years later, she tried to claim the house (that was still registered in Mr Condappa's name) on the basis of his promise. He however refused to sign the house over to her and stated that she had no financial interest at all in the property.
The court has been asked to examine whether or not there was a binding agreement between them, and whether Ms Slater acted to her financial detriment in reliance of the promise. They have reserved judgment, and the outcome remains awaited.The case marks a very common problem for couples who have discussions during their relationship without any understanding of the legal position, and which can have consequences they did not intend. Until such time as a more uniform system is put in place to deal with how the assets ofnon-married couples should be distributed after a Separation, people in that situation are always advised to obtain legal advice, so they know where they stand. Whilst it seems unromantic, it can avoid costly legal proceedings further down the line and/or prevent a situation whereby someone walks away from a long relationship without a penny, because of the unexpected consequences of cohabitation law.
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