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Not married, property ownership issue

(29 Posts)
SageMist Sat 29-Sep-12 15:17:54

I am looking to for some advice for a very good friend who's relationship is breaking down.
She and her partner have been together for about 15 years, they have 2 DC, aged 10 and 5. He has a fairly good job and she had been working part time since the children came along. They have a house which she thought they had a joint mortgage on. It turns out the house is in his sole name. And as they have never had a joint account, she has never paid the mortgage, but she has paid other bills, especially related to the children and food.
The relationship is falling apart, and he is talking about not leaving the house because it is his and not theirs, despite the fact they bought it together.
She has seen a solicitor who says my friend is entitled to nothing. Is this right? Surely she must have some stake in the property?

DizzyHoneyBee Sat 29-Sep-12 15:32:56

If one of you owns your property
What you need to do about property when one of you owns it on your own will depend on what you have already agreed.
If you agreed to share the property
You and your former partner may have agreed that the home was to be shared but only one of you is on the ownership documents.
If this happens, the other partner may still be able to prove they own a share. This is known legally as having a ‘beneficial interest’.
The amount of the share would be calculated according to the contributions made to the home. This could include paying bills, contributing to the maintenance and upkeep of the property or paying a share of the deposit or mortgage.
If you didn't agree to share the property
If you didn’t agree to share the property, but the partner who doesn’t own it made a ‘direct contribution’, they may be able to prove they own a share.
‘Direct contributions’ in these circumstances are only financial – and this generally means having paid some of the deposit or mortgage.

and :

Good luck to your friend.

STIDW Sat 29-Sep-12 16:40:59

Your friend needs advice from a solicitor. When someone is unmarried ownership is determined by property law and whose name is on the deeds of the property. Occasionally it's possible to establish an interest in a property if it can be established there was an intention to share and your friend might be able to make a claim on behalf of the children under the Children Act 1989. A solicitor can advise where she stands and what options there are given the particular circumstances. It's a complicated area of law and not really something someone can do it themselves.

SageMist Sat 29-Sep-12 18:26:21

Dizzy, thanks for the links, I will pass them on.

STIDW, my friend has seen a solicitor, who said she had no hope of getting anything. As far as I am aware the solicitor did not mention that making a claim on behalf of the children was possible. So I will tell my friend of this.

My friend believed that she and her partner had a joint mortgage and joint ownership of the house. Well that was until recently, she says she has recently seen documentation which only has his name on it. I assume this is the mortgage details.

Prior to meeting her partner my friend never owned any property so would not have known about both parties having to sign mortgage applications. I know her partner well and can easily believe that he deliberately lied to her.

However I am also sure there is nothing in writing that will prove this. There will be no evidence of her paying part of the mortgage, because she paid for other things for her family instead. She was the one that did the DIY and decorating, I don't suppose she has any supporting receipts though.

deborahliz Sun 30-Sep-12 12:31:51

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

mumblechum1 Sun 30-Sep-12 17:51:06

Her best bet is to make an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. This will at least give her a roof over her and the children's heads if she's successful, but she'll still have to leave once the youngest has grown up.

The other option is to make an application under the Trust of Lands and Appointment of Trustees Act for a declaration of beneficial interest and an order for sale, so that she can recover some cash.

It's a bit odd that she didn't notice that the mortgage letters etc were in his name only.

Xenia Sun 30-Sep-12 18:10:27

Why shoudl she take his house? She doesn't own it. Why should anyone get the property of anyone else?

If she wanted wife rights she shoudl have refused to move in with him until they were married and if she wanted to take his property from him she should have refused to move in until he transferred the property into her name too and/or refused to work part time so she did not reduce her income.

It is very very important we never change the law in England to give live in lovers rights over the property of the other partner and have a big difference between marriage and otherwise.

In this case who will have the chidlren? No reason she ought to in 2012. She can get full time work and rent elsewhere and the children can spend half the time with each parent. That is what is fair, not women who leech off male earnings and expect a cut on separation when they aren't even married.

SageMist Sun 30-Sep-12 19:00:06

This isn't AIBU, so I don't feel I need to justify my friend's predicament, other than to say she believed one thing, naively, and is now being shafted. She isn't trying to steal his property, she is trying to ensure that her children are as little affected as possible.
Those that have given practical advice, thank you , I will pass it on.

SageMist Sun 30-Sep-12 19:08:15

Xenia you have no idea how nasty your post sounds. Shame on you.

Xenia Mon 01-Oct-12 09:14:08

It's a fair post based on how some lower earners who aren't married fleece richer partners. If the partner wanted the legal consequneces of marriage they would have married her (or him) and if they wanted to give some of their property up to the lower earner they would put it in joint names. It is very very important English law stays as it is so that adults can make their own rational choices rather than have to support someone simply because they allow them to move in. If she were worred about supporting herself she coudl have carried no full time work when children came as many women do.

Xenia Mon 01-Oct-12 09:14:17

..on full time work...

suburbandweller Mon 01-Oct-12 09:38:33

Xenia your post is not helpful. The OP has made clear that her friend thought she jointly owned the house - however naive that might make her - and that she has contributed financially to its upkeep while raising her and her partner's children. It seems unlikely that someone who has been with their partner for 15 years has set out to "fleece" him. Perhaps you ought to keep quiet if you have nothing constructive to say as your post comes across as very bitter, not to mention legally incorrect. The fact is that English law does recognise that unmarried people may gain a share in a property in certain circumstances, as previous posters have highlighted.

titchy Mon 01-Oct-12 09:52:50

The irony being Xenia would have been much better of NOT getting married!

Collaborate Mon 01-Oct-12 13:03:22

Xenia- any claim a cohabitee could make for an interest in another's property is made under well established principles of land law, the statutory legislation part of which dates back to 1925. The case law dates back earlier than this.

I'm sure if you want a rant about your fears that the law might be changed after 100 years, you can start your own AIBU thread.

Xenia Mon 01-Oct-12 14:12:37

You know what I mean. Scotland has gone down the path of foolishness and English must not. Of course there are circumstances in which a cohabitant may have some kind of share (a shame but there it is ) but it depends, it very much depends and it is very different and rightly so from marriage.

STIDW Mon 01-Oct-12 15:05:31

In Scotland co-habitants have limited rights so that one party isn't disadvantaged by the relationship say because they gave up a career to care for children, but they aren't the same rights as married spouses. For example no claims can be made to property, it is specifically excluded.

The advantage of having co-habitant rights enshrined in the law is there is more certainty so separating couples know better where they stand and for the most part avoid protracted and expensive legal proceedings.

sicutlilium Mon 01-Oct-12 15:11:58

Useful briefing paper on the issue here (scroll down to PDF link). Written for MPs, so mumsnetters should have no problem following it:

cestlavielife Mon 01-Oct-12 15:39:58

she needs to push the solicitor to amke an application under the chidlrens act for mainteance and possibly something from the property as they have children together.

but in terms of ownership she is going to have to prove beneficial ownership and that could be hard - she needs to provide proof of joint "something" other than just the kids.

being innocent and naive wont hep her - it is tough luck really; clealry she didnt buy it jointly if her name is not on any document - unless she can find some emails from him to her talking about "buying togeteher"??? ... - but she needs to get all evidence paperwork proof the kids are joint etcetc and go to solictor again mentioning childrens act schedule one - or try a different solciitor - but - she will get something for the children - not for her.

what is the [proposal for residence of chidlren - is he sugesting equal share, that she moves out and they stay with him and visit with her or ??

Xenia Mon 01-Oct-12 16:32:04

(Yes Scotland has not gone the whole hog which is just as well buti t has made a legal change which has also been proposed in England and which many of us in England oppose and hope never happens. It is a matter of freedom and personal liberty and in a sense a matter of women's rights and personal development - the more you allow women to leech off men in fact the worse long term you do for women)

TirednessKills Mon 01-Oct-12 18:42:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PigletJohn Mon 01-Oct-12 19:20:11

It's possible that Xenia is looking at it from the point of view of a prosperous woman who fears a man getting his hands on her assets.

DoIDare Mon 01-Oct-12 19:25:20

I'm sure after 15 years and two children she is looking o fleece him!

I agree unwise to not be married, but he seems like a chancer willing to see his children homeless.

lalalonglegs Mon 01-Oct-12 20:26:11

I think the OP's friend has been very naive and her partner seems unscrupulous but Xenia has a point. Forgetting about this case for a moment, you shouldn't just acquire a share of someone else's property covertly, it should be something that is entered into expressly with everyone fully aware of the situation by (a) marrying or (b) registering that person's names on the deeds.

Collaborate Mon 01-Oct-12 23:00:02

For anyone bemoaning the current state of the law in E&W, just google Constructive Trusts, Resulting Trusts, and Proprietary Estoppel. The come back here and try and argue that it doesn't make sense (but for the sake of OP please do so in a dedicated thread).

PickledFanjoCat Mon 01-Oct-12 23:03:31

Xenia - what ridiculous views. Please jog on.

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