All’S Fair in Love and Co-habitation
The Supreme Court case of Mr Kennett and Ms Jones could change the face of co-habitation law shortly. This unmarried couple lived together for approximately 9 years, and had 2 children. The family home was bought jointly and equally. Ms Jones paid the deposit, and Mr Kennett funded an extension to the property. Sadly, the couple split up, and Mr Kennett left the family home, buying a property for himself with the proceeds of a jointly held Life Policy, with the agreement of Ms Jones. There was no overall agreement between the two of them as to how their respective interest in the family home would be addressed.
On leaving the family home, Mr Kennett stopped making any contribution towards financing the home, but it is also the case that he did not ask Ms Jones to pay him any monies in relation to her having the benefit of exclusive occupation. He would have rightly been entitled to “occupational rent”.
In the County Court and the High Court, Ms Jones was successful in being awarded 90% of the value of the property. However, Mr Kennett appealed, and the Court of Appeal overturned the decision that Ms Jones should receive 90%. The Court of Appeal decided that the Order should be varied to allow each party 50% of the value of the property.
And so, the matter lies with the Supreme Court for determination now. A precedent will no doubt be set. This change is, as far as many are concerned, long overdue, especially as the long awaited new Law on Co-habitation has yet to be brought in. It is expected that unmarried couples will total almost 4 million in 20 years time (Government Sources), and so surely a move towards a fairer approach, not purely based upon archaic Law of Trust, is the right way forward for those who choose not to marry. The debate continues…