Engaged Couples Property Ownership Disputes

Suppose you are engaged to your fiancée and are thinking about ending your engagement or have already done so.

In that case, seeking expert legal advice is important, especially if you have joint ownership of property or other assets.

Myerson Solicitors' property litigation and family teams will help ensure a smooth separation and protection of assets.

Engaged couples frequently turn to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) for guidance on property sale, equity distribution upon sale, or ownership transfer.

Property disputes often occur when a relationship ends, and both parties previously lived together on the property.

Property ownership disputes typically revolve around disagreements regarding the sale of the property, property ownership transfers, or shares of capital from a sale.

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Legal Considerations for Engaged Couples: Property Rights and Protections

Generally speaking, the rules for cohabiting couples when their relationship ends will also apply to engaged couples.

However, if you bring a claim within three years of the end of your engagement, then the law does offer some additional protection in relation to your property rights.

In these circumstances, the Court has the power to make a declaration as to how the property is held, can order a sale of the property and can order an equitable account takes place (although it cannot adjust the interest in the property).

If you have contributed substantially to the property, then the Court can also determine whether you have a beneficial interest in it.

As soon as your engagement has ended, you should seek advice on how the property is held and what your legal position and options are in relation to the property.

If you hold it as joint tenants, you should consider whether this should be severed so that you hold it as tenants in common.

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Why Work With Our Property Ownership Dispute Team

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Engaged Couples Property Ownership Disputes FAQs

What rights do engaged couples have?

In general, engaged partners have fewer legal protections regarding property ownership and equity claims than married couples.

However, certain circumstances may provide engaged couples with enhanced protections.

Myerson's Property Litigation team have handled various joint property ownership disputes.

If you are experiencing a property dispute with your ex-fiancée, please contact our expert property dispute lawyers as soon as possible.

Is my ex-fiancée entitled to half of my house?

When a couple terminate their agreement to marry, property in which either or both had a beneficial interest during the engagement (including his property) is subject to specific rules.

One of the rules involves section 37 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1970.

According to this section, if one fiancée contributes capital or assets to improve real or personal property in which either partner has a beneficial interest, the contributing fiancée (unless there's an agreement stating otherwise) obtains a portion or an increased portion of ownership in that property.

The question will be whether you contributed money or money's worth to the property.

Joint property owners must bring a claim within three years of the engagement's termination.

Do I have to give back my engagement ring?

The engagement ring is often a very sensitive item for both parties. Whether you need to give it back depends upon what the intention was at the time it was given to you. Was it a gift, or was it conditional upon you marrying your fiancée?

The Courts have decided over the years that an engagement ring is presumed to be a gift, which means you are entitled to keep it unless your fiancée can demonstrate that this is not the case.

The most common example is where the ring has been passed down through the generations and kept within the family.

In this situation, it may be easier for your ex-fiancée to demonstrate that the ring was not a gift.

What happens if ex-fiancées cannot agree about contact with children?

Mediation is often the first step to consider before applying to the Court for an Order.

At mediation, you and your ex-fiancée will meet with a trained mediator to see if you can reach an agreement between yourselves. 

We recognise that, at times, Court proceedings may be the only viable step to take when it is not possible for an agreement to be reached between the parties.

Our expert Family lawyers have a wealth of experience in obtaining Child Arrangement Orders and advising in relation to child abduction and relocation, among other matters.

If I die, can my ex-fiancée claim on my Estate?

If you die before your fiancée, then your fiancée will be treated as one of your dependents and may be able to make a claim on your Estate for financial provision.

Certain eligibility criteria exist, and Myerson Solicitors has a specialist team of estate administration experts who can advise you on how your property will be managed.

Meet Our Property Ownership Dispute Solicitors

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our Property Ownership Dispute Lawyers are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Jane Tenquist

Jane Tenquist

Jane is a Partner and Head of the Family Law Team

Nichola Bright

Nichola Bright

Nichola is a Partner in our Family Law Team

Sarah Whitelegge

Sarah Whitelegge

Sarah is a Senior Associate in our Family Law Team

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