Understanding Property Disputes During Separation When Traditional Family Law Does Not Suit You

Duncan Lewis & Co Solicitors


Duncan Lewis Solicitors is an award-winning and Times 200 ranked law firm offering expert services in 25 fields, including family law, business immigration, high net divorce, personal injury, commercial litigation, property law, motoring, education and employment.
The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) addresses property disputes, especially for non-married individuals. It resolves ownership issues through resulting trusts, constructive trusts, or proprietary estoppel, and emphasizes clear agreements and records to prevent conflicts.
UK Family and Matrimonial
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When families, couples, or friends face disagreements over who owns what part of a property, the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, or TOLATA for short, comes into play.

This law can help resolve these tricky situations, especially when traditional family law does not quite fit the bill.

TOLATA is particularly useful for those who are not married or whose relationships do not fit traditional legal definitions but still have property matters to sort out after a breakup.

When Do Property Disputes Happen? Mostly, these disagreements pop up when a couple splits up and one of them owns the property. The court has a few options: it can decide to sell the property and split the money, decide who gets to live there, or make a clear statement (Declaration of Trust) on who owns what part of the property.

Claiming Your Share of the Property if there is no clear written agreement (Declaration of Trust), and you want to claim your share, you have a few options:

Resulting Trust: You show that you have put money or something valuable towards buying the property, expecting to own a part of it in return.

Constructive Trust: You prove that both of you planned to share the property and you have suffered a loss because of this belief.

Proprietary Estoppel: You have been led to believe you would have a share in the property by the owner's actions or promises, and you have acted on this belief to your detriment.

Preventing Disputes

The best way to avoid these messy disputes is by being clear from the start. Keep track of any money others put into your property, whether it is a gift, loan, or investment. Before moving in together, write down what everyone's intentions are regarding the property. Keeping detailed records of property payments can also save a lot of headaches.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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