Relationship breakdown

If your relationship does break down, what should you do?

If you are living with your partner and your relationship breaks down, you need to be clear about what you each own and how any jointly owned assets should be divided. 

If you are not married, you do not have any claims against your partner and vice versa. However, you or your partner may be entitled to a share of the property, even if that property is owned in one person’s name. If it is owned in joint names, the presumption is that it will be split 50-50, but there may be reasons in your particular situation why that is not the answer. If you are in any doubt, you should speak to a solicitor to understand if you are entitled to a share of the property and, if so, what that share might be. 

Ideally you will be able to agree who owns what and divide the assets on that basis. You should also try to agree the arrangements for any children, including where they live, how much time they spend with each of you and who pays what for them. Drawing up a parenting plan can help. 

If you and your partner cannot agree who owns what and/or any arrangements for the children, either of you could make an application to the court for a judge to decide the issue on your behalf. In a few cases, court is the only answer but you need to be aware that litigation is generally very expensive, the outcome can be very uncertain and going to court can make things difficult between you and your partner. It is normally better to explore other ways to deal with your dispute and avoid going to court if you can help it. 

Mediation is a way for you and your partner to talk about things with an independent mediator helping you both to reach an agreement. You can usually mediate with or without solicitors present, as you wish. The exact way you deal with things can be agreed with the mediator at the start of the process.

Alternatively, if you and your partner want to sort things out amicably, but you need the help of your solicitors to be able to do so, collaborative law is another option. This involves you discussing everything together, with your collaborative lawyers, in face to face meetings and you all agree that you will not go to court.

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