Posted by Jemma Breban on 20th October 2014

One of our family law solicitors in Exeter takes a look at a case study involving a separating unmarried couple…

Mr Southwell and Ms Blackburn lived together for ten years in a home chosen by them together, purchased in his name and funded by him with no financial assistance from her.

Indeed, Mr Southwell was careful not to permit Ms Blackburn to contribute or own the property with him.

He made promises to Ms Blackburn that she would be secure in the new home long term. Relying on the assurance, Ms Blackburn (who had two children by a previous relationship) left the secure rented property she had spent much of her money on and spent the rest of her savings to move to live with Mr Southwell. Ms Blackburn was further reassured because Mr Southwell arranged for her to benefit from his pension if he died.

After ten years the relationship ended. Mr Southwell gave Ms Blackburn notice to quit the property before changing the locks, making her homeless. The court found that he had broken his promise to her and that it would be unconscionable to permit him to do so.

Although Ms Blackburn invested no money in the property and did not own it, the court valued her claim as equivalent to the money she had invested in improving her previous home (£20,000), together with the cost of her move to live with him (£5,000). Inflation was applied taking the total to £28,500.

Points for unmarried partners to note:

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