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Talks Divorce

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QUESTION

I have been living with a partner for some five years, and four years ago we purchased a house in joint names. Our relationship is now very rocky, and I want to sell the house and take my share of the proceeds of sale, and buy a property independently.

However, my partner is saying that I cannot force a sale, and that I am not entitled to 50% of the proceeds of sale, because I have been paying for food and bills whereas he has been paying for the mortgage.

Is this correct?

ANSWER

Where property is conveyed into joint names of a cohabiting couple, but without there being an explicit declaration of the parties’ respective shares of the property, the Title to the property will, itself, dictate the way in which the proceeds are to be distributed unless you can show that this is not what you and your partner intended.

You should note that in your case the onus is on your partner to show that your interest in the property is less than his, but from the information you are giving me is sounds as though in reality your contribution has been equal because you have been paying some joint debts, notwithstanding the fact that he has been paying for the mortgage.

There is no reason why you should not apply to the Court under the Trusts of Land (Appointment of Trustees) Act for an Order that the property be sold and I would think that there is no reason why such an Order would not be made. At the same time your partner would have to prove to the Court that he had a greater than 50% interest in the equity in this property, and, from all the information you have given me, he would find this difficult to do. If you have contributed equally to the property purchase and its upkeep, and your intentions have always been to have equal shares in the property, then your partner will have to bring very compelling evidence to Court to show that he has an entitlement to more than 50% of the net proceeds of sale.

It is very likely that if you go to a solicitor and have a letter written to your partner he will be forced to take legal advice himself, and on receiving such advice his position will, in all probability, become more conciliatory. If you and your partner have to go to Court, the costs will be high.


QUESTION

My husband left me four months ago, and I have just discovered that the house which we had purchased in his name for letting has been sold. I am frightened that my husband will spend the money that he has raised from the sale, and do not know what to do about it.

Can you help me?

ANSWER

You should seek immediate legal advice, and your solicitor will write to your husband asking him for full details of the selling price and the whereabouts of the net proceeds of sale. The solicitor should then also ask your husband to agree to freeze the money obtained from the sale pending you sorting out your finances by way of divorce settlement.

If your husband refuses to cooperate your solicitor can obtain an injunction under Section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, and if you bring such proceedings and succeed, your husband will have to pay your legal costs for this procedure.

You, of course, need to act quickly.