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Rights of a common law wife?

(22 Posts)
digitalgirl Sun 13-Jan-13 15:41:30

My father divorced his second wife 7 years ago. It was an incredibly bitter divorce, she had beaten their eldest child black and blue, stolen thousands of pounds by forging his cheques and taking our credit cards in his name and generally been a very toxic person to live with.
He was granted residency over their two sons and for a while she had supervised contact.

After a while they came to an amicable arrangement, which in turn led to her moving back in a year or two later. I was very worried for my half-brothers but my father kept saying that she'd changed and was a much better mother to them now.

After many previous attempts to kick her out - each time giving in because he felt it was best for the children to have their mother with them - he now realises that she isn't good for them and wants to kick her out permanently. However she claims he needs a court order to do that and he doesn't have the money to instruct a solicitor. I believe the children (now 9 and 13) are at risk of her increasingly deviant behaviour - she gambles, she takes them to friends houses where she sleeps with her married boyfriend while they sit downstairs waiting, she steals their birthday money, she is inappropriately physical with her youngest, she constantly threatens to leave them sometimes disappears for days only to return as though nothing happened. She treats her children with contempt, buying their affection with treats whenever it suits her.

The house is in my father's name, they are not married. Can he just kick her out and change the locks? Or does he need to instruct a solicitor? He has no money, but I'm worried for the emotional well being of my brothers while she continues to live there.

expatinscotland Sun 13-Jan-13 15:49:00

There is no such thing as a common law wife.

IIRC, yes, he can kick her out.

3littlefrogs Sun 13-Jan-13 15:53:30

There is no such thing as a common law wife. There are no associated rights.

However, she may have some rights as the mother of childen living in the shared home.

Your father needs legal advice.

digitalgirl Sun 13-Jan-13 15:55:30

Where can you go for legal advice if you have no money?

AnnieLobeseder Sun 13-Jan-13 15:57:11

Citizen's Advice Bureau. Hope your dad gets it sorted, she sounds awful.

WhoWhatWhereWhen Sun 13-Jan-13 16:01:03

Many solicitors will offer 1/2 hr free advice, standard advice from CAB will be to see a solicitor

digitalgirl Sun 13-Jan-13 16:02:11

Thank you. I did think CAB but wasn't sure. I will tell him.

And yes, she is beyond awful.

digitalgirl Sun 13-Jan-13 16:14:47

Xposted - so not CAB?

He's had a free session with his union solicitor, who seemed to think he could sell the house without problem.

But if he can sell the house (which he plans to do), can he not just change the locks next time she goes out and refuse to let her back in? Then call the police if she tries to break in?

Seabright Sun 13-Jan-13 16:16:31

Has she contributed anything monetary to the house? Paid mortgage? Paid for new windows? Stuff like that? If so, she may have a claim to a share in the property.

Agree with the others, there is no such thing as a common law wife in England & Wales. I believe the situation may be different in Scotland but I am only legally qualified for E&W, so can't be sure.

ihearsounds Sun 13-Jan-13 16:16:33

Does he has a sure start/childrens centre nearby? The ones here do a legal service every month which is completely free. It's all legal professionals who volunteer their time. You don't need to have a child under 5, it's for everyone in the community.

digitalgirl Sun 13-Jan-13 16:25:04

They are in England. She has paid for the tv/Phone bill at times but never the mortgage. The mortgage is in my father's name.

She nearly moved out on her own accord the other day but my father thinks she took some advice from someone who told her to stay put.

The situation in the house is unbearably stressful for their children. The eldest, 13, has already broken down at school. The youngest, 9, is often kept in her bedroom with her for hours at a time to 'guard her things' while she sleeps. His behaviour is getting worse.

If I called social services, could they insist she leaves if thats what my dad and her eldest son want? She's known to them.

Spero Sun 13-Jan-13 16:28:28

There is no such thing as a common law wife. But he will probably have to get an occupation order to get her out of the house as they are in a relationship. He needs to tell her she must leave, if she won't, he needs to get urgent legal advice as he will probably have to make an application to court.

babybarrister Sun 13-Jan-13 20:45:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cosysocks Sun 13-Jan-13 21:08:08

Call social services if she is being inappropriate physically with her child.

MOSagain Mon 14-Jan-13 13:31:30

As others have said, no such thing as common law wife. Agree with spero and babybarrister, he might need to get an occupation order to get her out.

Also, be wary about involving social services as once they are involved it is difficult to get them off the case (unless of course there are grave concerns for safety of children)

digitalgirl Mon 14-Jan-13 14:27:17

I'm planning to call SS in a moment. My concerns aren't 'grave', I don't think she's burning them with cigarettes or carrying out sexual acts with the youngest. But they are caught in the middle of her power games she's playing. Sometimes she holds and touches/strokes them in a way that makes others uncomfortable to watch - which is her intention. She coaches them in her lies, she often threatens to leave them, there's a lot of emotional blackmail going on. She's made it very clear that she's prepared to fight dirty to get what she wants, I just think if I can't keep an eye on the boys and my father is too weak to stop her from behaving like this then someone needs to keep an eye on them.

Spero Mon 14-Jan-13 14:55:25

I am not sure that SS are going to be able to help you much with those types of allegations. Its all a bit nebulous, and I am sure she would have her own version of events. Frankly, unless she is hitting them or sexually abusing them - in which case the police can arrest her and get her out - I think you are far better off making an application to the court for her removal asap.

MOSagain Mon 14-Jan-13 15:36:29

And I'm not sure your father would thank you for going to SS behind his back

cestlavielife Mon 14-Jan-13 15:55:19

she beat the child before? and dad moved her back in?
no wonder the child broke down...

can you focus on getting your half brothers some help?
with the back story i would call SS - were the incidents recorded before?

could the boys come life with you for a while while your dad and this woman sort out their mess?

cestlavielife Mon 14-Jan-13 15:56:15

sorry live with you...

someone has to look out for those poor boys - neither dad nor mum is... can you?

maybe with ss support?
would the boys "tell" on their mum?

irishyouamerrychristmas Mon 14-Jan-13 15:59:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MOSagain Mon 14-Jan-13 16:57:32

irish is right. I had assumed that the AR had all been dealt with (as there was forgery claims etc) but I suppose we shouldn't assume anything.

He needs to confirm whether there was a final court order dealing with the finances or alternatively a consent order dealing with the finances and dismissing any future claims (although unlikle if that acrimonious)

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