What happens to the gifts I bought

It may come as a surprise to some, but January is often the busiest month of the year for unmarried separations. This is probably the result of a combination of increased financial strains, more than usual time spent with a significant other and the in-laws (though this may of course not be the case this year). Aside from establishing the legal position in relation to solely or jointly owned properties, one of the most common questions we are asked is ‘what happens to the gifts I bought my partner if our relationship ends?’. Detailed below are some of the common questions we are often asked. 

What happens to the gifts I bought my partner if we separate?

If you purchased a Christmas gift for your partner and there was no form of agreement that the gift would be returned if the relationship broke down, the starting position is that your partner will be able to keep the gift. That’s not to say however, that the return of gifts cannot be negotiated alongside any other issues which need resolving particularly if the gift was a generous one. 

What about items we bought jointly?

If you and your partner purchased an item for your home jointly (either using joint funds or with you each contributing equally), for example a television, you will both own that item. It could either be agreed that one person will purchase the item from the other, or there is a form of ‘trade off’ with other items. 

What about our pet? 

Autumn 2020 saw a record number of dogs being purchased, which ultimately means that unfortunately it is likely a greater number of separations will involve disputes over shared pets.

Who gets to keep your pet will depend on who purchased the pet and who is responsible for its day to day care as well as whether either of you registered it in your sole name. 

The most important thing to remember when deciding who will keep any pets however, is who can offer it the best standard of care. 

How should we record our agreement? 

Any terms you agree with your partner on separation should be contained within a Separation Agreement. This protects your position going forward and avoids any later disputes regarding who could kept what and more importantly prevents your ex-partner coming back for a second bite at the cherry. 

If you are agreeing to share your pet after separation, arrangements including expenses and a ‘care timetable’ can be incorporated into a Separation Agreement. 

Find out more about Separation Agreements here.