Lucia specialises in cohabitation issues between unmarried couples who own property together. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not have the same legal rights as married couples.
She is experienced in advising cohabiting couples on all areas of the law from how best to legally and financially protect themselves at the start of a relationship through to the importance of making a will and what to do if things go wrong and they part.
She is an experienced member of both the Family and Litigation Teams which means she brings a wealth of relevant knowledge and understanding to her role as cohabitation specialist. She works closely with colleagues in other departments, for example, Wills and Probate, to offer her clients the best possible service.
Her aim is to help cohabiting couples ensure from the outset that they are protected legally and if a problem occurs, to advise separating couples on how to reach a settlement. She will always avoid going to court if possible.
She says: “Purchasing a property with a partner when you are not married can potentially give rise to certain problems which are often overlooked at the time. Speaking to a solicitor before you take this step will often give a much needed sense of perspective and allow you to take the necessary steps to protect your interests. However if you have not been able to seek advice before the relationship has ended, and a dispute has arisen, then we are also here to try and guide you through this difficult time and in most cases reach an agreement.”
Examples of how Lucia can help include:
- Preparing Cohabitation Agreements – This is a sensible way of formalising the purchase of any property and the subsequent living arrangements. It can cover everything from contents, personal belongings, savings and pets to how much each person contributed to the mortgage deposit and subsequent payments.
- Incorporating a Declaration of Trust into the Cohabitation Agreement – This can set out the different types of ownership. For example, stating that one person is entitled to 40 per cent of the net proceeds of sale and the other is entitled to the remaining 60 per cent if the relationship ends.
- Assisting if a dispute arises between a separating couple. A dispute can arise when a couple already jointly own a property or even when it is owed by just one party. If a property is owned by just one person, known as sole ownership, often the non-owning party can find themselves in a difficult position. They may have contributed towards the mortgage, bills and home improvements. Lucia can help to establish the non-owning person’s financial interest in the property. If an Agreement is reached she can draft all the necessary paperwork including a separation agreement.
- Advising someone who bought a house with their former partner – known as joint ownership – but has since separated. Lucia will try to seek an agreement which will be drafted in a separation agreement. If it is not possible to reach an agreement, Lucia will discuss other options such a mediation or the possibility of bringing a claim under the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 Act. Under this Act you are able to bring a claim for an interest in a property and also ask the court for an Order for Sale.
Legal 500 Rankings
Legal 500 2021 Wards Solicitors is recommended for Contentious Trusts and Probate. Lucia Mills is recommended in the editorial as: ‘Lucia Mills is one of very few real cohabitation specialists with a true understanding of this area of work that is unmatched locally. She is also extremely good at dealing with intervention by third parties in financial remedy divorce cases as well as more traditional areas of trusts and probate work. She has a brilliant manner with clients and always gives pragmatic and cost-effective advice.‘
Legal 500 2019 Wards Solicitors is recommended for Contentious Trusts and Probate and Lucia Mills comes highly recommended by clients for going ‘beyond the call of duty’.
Qualifications and Experience
- Law degree
- Qualified as a Solicitor in 2009
- Has specialised in Cohabitation Law since 2013
- Member of the Property Litigation Association
Supervised by Elizabeth Fry