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    Trust is No Replacement for Legal Advice

    Sadly, not all relationships that get off to a good start last, and it is vital to seek legal advice before entering into any financial arrangements, even with those who are closest to you. That point was clearly made by a case in which a woman attempted to cheat her ex-partner out of his rightful share of the house they once shared.

    The couple had been together for 15 years and had a child before they separated. He paid £25,000 towards the acquisition of the house. The property was, however, registered in her sole name and she denied that he had any stake in it. She argued that the payment he made was a gift rather than a loan or an investment. She also denied that he had contributed to loan repayments or had carried out and paid for substantial renovation and maintenance works.

    In upholding his claim to an equitable share of the property, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found him to be an honest and reliable witness. By contrast, her evidence was dishonest and she had even resorted to fabricating copies of a builder's invoices in an attempt to undermine his claim to have undertaken works himself. It was also considered to be inherently unlikely that he would have gifted her £25,000, the equivalent of a year's salary. The extent of his share in the property will be assessed at a further hearing if agreement cannot be reached in the light of the FTT's decision.

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    If you are considering setting up home with someone else, it makes sense to document arrangements such as the ownership of property, who pays what and any rights acquired as a result. Cohabitation agreements are good protection for people in this position, whose legal rights are not otherwise guaranteed. With such an agreement in place, you can rest easy knowing that in the event that the relationship does fail, you are protected.

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    The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.