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What rights have you against an ex partner

What rights have you against an ex partner who would not marry you but caused you to believe marriage would not be better for your financial security than just living together. Cheshire family law specialist Stonehewer Moss have noted recent publicity about a first instance court decision called Cahill v Farrer that resulted in the award of the full value of the house to one of the cohabiting couple, the mother of three children of the relationship. Solicitor Michael Brennan comments,” This case is reported in the tabloids quite extensively and should be treated with some caution as a precedent. Essentially, in the absence of a marriage a partner has no recourse to the distributive powers the Courts have in divorce. Mr Farrer is reported to have made remarks to his partner that she would not get the financial security of marriage but the Judge has decided on the facts that there was an agreement that allowed him to find that Miss Cahill owned all of the value of a house they lived in, reported to be worth £300,000. It is unclear whether the callous nature of the findings as regards the remarks of Mr Farrer were part of the reasoning of the judge to find that they had agreed the absence of security of marriage was paid for at the cost of agreeing she have full value, without sight of a formal court report. It is, however, interesting to note the reported remarks of the Judge and it reveals the real life problems the Courts now contend with for unmarried couples; the likelihood is that the legal costs will have been higher for this case than an average divorce and the costs rules for civil claims are harsher than those in divorce. In civil claims of this nature the Courts have to deal with legal concepts such as constructive trusts and costly barristers are often needed. Counsel for Ms Cahill is based in London and was a charming woman when I met her 10 years ago doing some collaborative law training in London. She paid for our taxi to the hotel. Collaborative, like mediation, has to be worth pursuing before you end up in Court but if you deliberately treat people badly, sometimes the past can catch up with you and it is too late to expect early resolution. If faced with a court dispute, consider early issue resolution and perhaps referral to out of court negotiation before the harsh cost rules make it an expensive casino at trial.”

For advice, negotiation and representation in cohabitation disputes, telephone 01606 872200 e mail or visit

The newspaper report can be read at



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Stonehewer Moss Solicitors, Citadel House, Solvay Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 4DP

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