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Cohabitation agreement warning follows high profile case

A family law solicitor is warning unmarried couples who are living together to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement.

The warning follows a national case which has seen a builder who carried out renovations to a flat bought in his girlfriend’s name suing his former partner for the £60,000 value of his work.

In the case, which is now awaiting a judge’s ruling, 31-year-old Gareth Powell claimed his girlfriend Chloe Thomas, 28, bought a £315,000 property in London that the couple would sell on for a profit. He would carry out the necessary work to make it fit for sale.

The couple split in 2014, and because the property was not in his name, Mr Powell was left without anything to show for the work he did.

Helen Lucking, partner in the Family team at Napthens solicitors, said the case highlighted the importance of a cohabitation agreement for couples finding themselves in a similar situation.

Such an agreement, drawn up before a similar large purchase where one party is contributing more financially than the other, would save on both stress and legal costs.

Helen said: “Such couples should think carefully if one party is putting down a large deposit or even buying a property without a mortgage.

“There may be promises made at the time that simply don’t carry any weight if a couple separate. This can make it very difficult for one party to claim what they believe is rightfully theirs.

“In this case, we’re told that a relative of the couple actually encouraged them to sign a contract, but this was not done.

“They are now left in a situation where they are facing a costly and very public court case, which could have been avoided with a simple document.”

Family and Divorce - Partner - Helen Lucking