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Did you know that claims can be brought against an ex-fiance, even when the marriage didn’t go ahead?

It’s a little-known loop-hole in the law, but some individuals may be able to claim from their previous partners, even when the marriage didn’t go ahead. Partner and Family Solicitor at Goughs Solicitors, Ross Phillips, explains more on this complex area of law.

“A couple who have never married, but who separate, are unable to use the broad discretionary law under The Matrimonial Causes Act which applies to spouses who divorce. This act enables spouses to seek monthly maintenance from the other, lump sum orders and property adjustment orders which provide for the transfer, sale or settlement of property.

“Unmarried couples, and indeed the majority of engaged couples who separate, generally only have the ability to advance a claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointments of Trustees Act (TLATA). This enables them to bring claims against the other for an interest in property, whether they are a legal owner or not, depending on the circumstances of the case.

“However, there is a little known, additional provision in the armoury of a formerly engaged person who has made a substantial contribution of money or money’s worth to the improvement of property. This includes real or personal property and so buildings, land or more movable things such as equipment, tools etcetera. 

“In the majority of cases, there is a clear path to recovery of the majority of contributions made by a formerly engaged person by pursuing a share in the property owned by the other person under TLATA and so reported cases under the Married Women’s Property Act 1882 (still valid law today) and the Law Reform (miscellaneous provisions) Act 1970, are very rare. Nonetheless, it is worth bearing in mind if you are in a difficult position and do not have strict protection under property and trust laws and principles.

“Whilst on the subject of claims for formerly engaged parties, it is worthwhile remembering that an engagement ring (sometimes comparable in cost to the initial deposit on a house!) shall be presumed to be an absolute gift unless there is an express or implied condition attaching to it that it should be returned in the event the engagement is called off.”

For more advice please contact Ross directly via email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Goughs Solicitors was established in 1882 and now boasts seven offices based throughout Wiltshire and over 100 members of staff. The firm provides legal services for both individuals and businesses including: Divorce, Separation, Finance and Children, Employment Law, Wills, Trusts & Probate, Commercial & Residential Property services, Real Estate and Corporate services.