Hello again and thanks for the information.
The legal position for someone whose unmarried relationship ends is quite different from the legal position of a married person who divorces. Matrimonial legislation provides that once a divorce petition has been filed at court, either party can ask the court to decide how the assets of the marriage should be divided, and the court will order that the assets be divided fairly, regardless of in whose name they were originally. And the matrimonial assets mean everything including pensions and money.
However, for a cohabiting couple who separate, the only claim that either can make against the other is in relation to property, and that claim must be based on property law, rather than what is fair.
If you and your ex can negotiate an agreement, then you can between you agree anything you want – but if you cannot reach agreement, the only powers that the court has is a) to make a declaration of ownership in property – ie stating what share you each have in the house that she owns jointly with her aunt, and b) an order for sale, which can be suspended until the youngest child of the family (if any) has reached 18.
To explain a) in more detail: There are two types of interests in land – one is the legal interest, which refers to the name or names on the title deeds, the other is the equitable interest (also called the beneficial interest). In your case, as the house is owned jointly in the names of your ex and her aunt, you do not have a legal interest in the house, as your name is ***** ***** the title deeds.
However, there is a possibility that you may have an equitable interest in your ex’s share of the house, if you could show the court that you made a financial contribution to the capital element of the mortgage – but there is no mortgage on this house - or to the purchase price or you paid for anything that increased the value of or the house. But you would almost certainly have to show a direct contribution eg a payment going from your bank account to a builder’s account that did repairs or maintenance, or a receipt from the builder which clearly showed that you alone paid his bill, rather than just a general contribution to household expenses, even if that was a regular payment . If the court was satisfied that you had an equitable interest in the house, the court would then state exactly what is your share of your ex’s share of the equity (as she doesn’t own the whole house). And the court could then order that the house be sold and the net proceeds divided as per the shares that the court had ordered - but once it was established that you did have a share, your ex would have the option (to avoid an order for sale), of buying your share from you, ie paying you a lump sum of the amount that your share was worth. You share might be a very small percentage.
If you cannot prove that you have an equitable interest in the house, which is very difficult to do - there is an even more difficult-to-prove possibility that you may have a right to compensation under the principle of proprietary estoppel. This principle states that if you acted to your detriment (eg by selling your own property or by giving up a secure tenancy) by moving in with your ex because of a promise she made to you, eg that you would always have the house as your home, then it may be that the court would order your ex to make a payment to you in compensation.
I have to say that the legal position of people in your circumstances is not at all straightforward, and is the kind of case where I would always instruct a specialist barrister. Unfortunately, there is no longer any legal aid for this type of case. I would advise you to see a specialist family law solicitor, who can then take all your details and arrange for a barrister to give a written legal opinion. You can ring around a few solicitors to find out how much this is likely to cost. Here's where to find a specialist family law solicitor:
But as going to court is time-consuming, stressful, and expensive, and with a very uncertain outcome, a better option is to try to negotiate with your ex as to what lump sum she could pay you (to give you a fresh start), given the length of your relationship, and the financial support you have given her as well as help, over the years. You can negotiate either between the two of you, or via solicitors' correspondence, or via mediation. The family court anyway now requires the parties to have attempted mediation before it will consider an application to court. Mediation would seem to be your best option, as it's better to have a neutral person in a round-the-table discussion with both of you (but the mediation process starts with an individual appointment with each of you). And mediation is cheaper than seeing a solicitor. Here's where to find a local family mediation service:
In your negotiation, you could point out the approximate total of the sums of money you have given your ex over the years, the cost of paying someone else to do any jobs you did without payment etc.
The Citizen's Advice Bureau can advise you about what help you can get with rent and council tax, and at what age you would be entitled to apply for local authority accommodation, and in what circumstances. Here's where to find your local CAB:
I also think it would be worth discussing with a solicitor the situation regarding your wife in the midlands, as from what you say, it’s not clear whether you are actually divorced from her, or whether there was any final court order concerning the house etc. & whether you now have any claim against the assets of your marriage.
I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.
Thanks and best wishes...
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