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tdlawyer
tdlawyer, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  Lawyer with 9 years experience of family law issues.
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My partner and I, we are not married, have separated - she

Resolved Question:

My partner and I, we are not married, have separated - she ended it. We own a house. We've been trying to negotiate an agreement between us but the offer is not great for me, at least that's how I feel. If this went to the courts, would she be able to take more money from the house sale based on the fact that she has put more into it (she earns more than me and contributed to paying off debts I had)? There are no children.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 3 years ago.

tdlawyer :

Hi thanks for your question. My name isXXXXX can assist with this.

tdlawyer :

Do you know whether you were joint tenants or tenants in common?

Customer:

Joint tenants

Customer:

It was a standard purchase, no pre agreement on who put in more equity etc, both names on the deeds

tdlawyer :

Okay. The general rule, with joint tenants, is that irrespective of how much you invest in the initial deposit, you would both be entitled to half each of the equity when the property is sold.

tdlawyer :

This type of arrangement is usually only suitable for those individuals in long-term relationships, such as married partners or long-term non married partners.

tdlawyer :

Was this explained to you when you purchased the property by your solicitors?

Customer:

No, although my partner - who is the one that is good with money - dealt with most of the arrangements. She has proposed that I move out, and that she takes on the mortgage (I am able to move in with my mother, she doesn't have an easy option). She then will stay in the house for a year before selling, with her taking 90% of the equity and 60% of the profit.

tdlawyer :

I'm not sure I understand the difference between the equity figure and the profit figure. Normally, the equity is essentially the profit.

tdlawyer :

As I said, with joint tenancies, the net proceeds of sale are usually always split 50-50.

tdlawyer :

That is the very essence of what a joint tenancy is all about.

tdlawyer :

So I would say she was not entitled to the 90% that she mentions.

Customer:

No, I'm not sure I do either.

tdlawyer :

Well, on any analysis, neither the 90% nor the 60% seems to make significant sense. If is a 50-50 arrangement.

tdlawyer :

I suppose her assuming liability to make the payments moving forward might justify a higher split in her favour, at least on one argument, but ultimately, if the property is sold and the net proceeds split then you both become entitled to 50-50 uou might avoid the sale. If you choose to do that, thus agreeing a different split, but I don't see why you would need to do that.

Customer:

Is there anything she could do to sway that? I'm actually fine in principal that she has put more money in as she earns more, and have been agreable to that thus far. But it seems far too much in her favour considering what I have put into the relationship. Can she claim unreasonable behaviour or anything?

tdlawyer :

No, I'm not sure what she could do to change that. She might have a claim against her solicitors for failing to advise about this, but that does not affect the position regarding you.

tdlawyer :

I don't see how unreasonable behaviour, or anything like that, comes into the equation at all.

Customer:

Well there hasn't been any, I didn't cheat or anything, she just 'fell out of love with me'. She threatened the legal action this evening based upon my inability to agree to her proposal and has given me until end of play tomorrow to agree in principal or she'll get a solicitor and 'take everything she can get'. This cooncerned me.

tdlawyer :

That is a really unfortunate attitude for her to take. Ultimately, there is a question as to whether you are prepared to reach agreement with her, but if not, then it may be that you both have to go through solicitors to resolve this. Certainly, from what I can see here, it looks as though her offer is rather unreasonable.

Customer:

She's very good at doing this and I feel I have been bullied into agreeing. I just need to be certain that going through the courts will result in a verdict less favourable to her than what she can get if she is reasonable with me.

tdlawyer :

There are never any guarantees when going through the courts. That is one of the reasons people always try to avoid litigation, if at all possible. However, as I said, the general rule is a 50-50 split, and you have said nothing to me here that would make me believe the position is different to that.

Customer:

How would it be argued out in the courts? Would it be complicated and involve throwing in things we didn't like about each other in order to sway the decision or would it simply be 'no this is a standard situation and a 50 - 50 split is what is required'?

tdlawyer :

It seems pretty straightforward.To be honest.

tdlawyer :

I'm not sure I can see how she will get past the 50-50 split.

Customer:

OK, I'm also aware that I can apply to the courts to force a sale, is this correct?

tdlawyer :

I think you need to wait to see what she says in correspondence, and if she instructs solicitors, then you will probably want to do the same. But my views here might give you a little bit of comfort that what she's asking for appears to be unreasonable.

tdlawyer :

You can apply to the court to force a sale.

tdlawyer :

In a situation such as this, I would expect the court to order a sale. Sometimes, other factors come into play when children are involved, but as you mentioned, you do not have children.

tdlawyer :

Has this proved helpful?

tdlawyer :

Is there anything you want me to focus on specifically?

Customer:

I feel reassured. I think my main concern was the threat to 'take as much as I can get', and I felt I may end up in a worse position than I am in now. Is that a gamble I'm willing to take? Probably not, so I'd just agree with the proposal and get out of here. I think I would regret that. I don't feel 100% sure but you are the second advice I've taken and both have said the same. Could she perhaps claim separately that I owe her money back from helping me pay of my debts, a separate case?

Customer:

Could she sue me for that?

tdlawyer :

Payments the debts are completely separate thing. She would have to show that money was loaned to you and that you failed to make repayment following a demand.

Customer:

No, as far as I'm aware it was another bill we paid out of he joint account.

Customer:

So she could make a demand now, retrospectively?

tdlawyer :

People can demand repayment of loans at any time, unless one of the terms of the agreement for the loan is that the repayment take place at a specific time.

Customer:

There was no loan though, so am I therefore protected from that eventuality?

tdlawyer :

Wish you just paying the debts off because that was something partner would do? As a gift?

Customer:

Yes, I would have done the same for her.

tdlawyer :

Okay. Then if this was a gift, there is no right to demand repayment.

tdlawyer :

She may regret it now, that she should have taken steps to ensure that this was not a gift at the time, and that you both understood that it was some form of loan arrangement. If she did not do that, and she just did this is your partner, to help you out, without expecting anything in return, this she cannot now complain and demand it be repaid to her.

Customer:

OK. The last thing I need to check is that after the split I had a nervous breakdown and my sister is a psychiatric nurse and can attest to my emotional state - I don't want to have to resort to these tactics but is there anything in that that I can use in my favour? The original negotiation was when I was in this state and I clearly wasn't in the right frame of mind, she shouldn't have done that. Is this legally significant?

tdlawyer :

If you are not able to mentally make decisions, but any agreement you make in that state will be invalid.

tdlawyer :

Legally, you need to be what is considered "of sound mind" to be able to make binding legal decisions.

tdlawyer :

Can I check whether you are happy with the answer provided this evening?

Customer:

Yes, I am happy. I think we're done here.

tdlawyer :

Okay. Thank you for your question this evening. If you do need anything further in the future, just let me know.

Customer:

Thank you

tdlawyer :

Thanks!

Customer:

np