The Mail Online has reported on the story of David Southwell and Catherine Blackburn who had lived together without being married.
The Court of Appeal in London has ruled that, even though he took many precautions not to give Catherine an interest in the property they lived in, he had promised her the security of a home in which to live with her children. Because she relied on that promise to her detriment, it would be wrong for him not to pay her some money when they split.
Whilst the Mail describes the case as a "landmark ruling" (as you'd expect from the Mail), this is not anything new in legal terms. Previous cases have seen people having to hand over money as a result of a promise that, for example, "...this house is as much yours as mine" and a number of court cases have considered how lottery winnings should be shared between syndicate members on the basis of promises made.
Whilst not very romantic, one lesson to be learned is to consider a Cohabitation Agreement (sometimes called a "Living Together Agreement") before agreeing to move in together. These agreements can set out what your financial arrangements are and make clear what, if anything, each can expect if the relationship ends.
At Cripps Family, we are preparing more and more agreements for those wanting to live together as well as prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. Our expert family lawyers have a lot of experience in helping clients through, what can be, a difficult but important decision making process.
Alex Davies, described by Chambers & Partners as a leading lawyer in his field, is the head of family law team at Cripps. Our expert family solicitors are experienced in advising clients in Tunbridge Wells, Kings Hill and central London about relationship agreements. Alex Davies can be contacted on +44 1892 506326 or on firstname.lastname@example.org.