Thank you for your response.
Please accept my apologies for my delay in responding to you.
What you need to know is that the house is considered as a matrimonial asset along with any other assets for both of you.
I think it is best to give you an overview of the matrimonial finances and how the court deals with the same.
In relation to the matrimonial finances - the correct way of dealing with the same is by making a claim which can only be done once divorce proceedings have been issued.
The matrimonial finances includes all of the assets and liabilities for both of you including the equity in your house and all other assets including your pension.
You will both be under a duty of full disclosure to provide full details of all assets and liabilities for both of you to each other.
The court considers the following criteria when deciding the division:
The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would, in the opinion of the Court, be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would, in the opinion of the Court, be inequitable to disregard it;In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring (e.g. a right to your spouse’s pensions).
From what you have said as your marriage has been a relatively short marriage then even though your wife still has a claim to the property this will be limited. As there are no children involved then the court will likely order that the house be sold so that the equity can be realised. There is not enough equity to re house you both so the division is going to be based upon both of your needs and given the length of your marriage your wife would be looking at around 20-30%.
You do have an argument that not all of the equity should be included in the division, given that this has been accrued over 22 years. The courts have a really wide discretion in relation to pre-marital assets but can agree that a portion can be set aside if needs can be met out of the other assets.
You need to consider referring to family mediation. This is a prerequisite before you can apply to court. Google family mediation in your area and give them a call to self refer.
Mediation will try and help you both through full disclosure of both their financial positions and discussions about division.
In relation to the matrimonial finances - If agreement can be reached at mediation then a consent order should be submitted to the court when applying for decree absolute in divorce proceedings to finalise matters, if approved by the court.
If agreement cannot be reached at mediation then the mediator will sign the form that you need to apply to court.
If divorce is not yet contemplated then they could consider a separation agreement. Mediation could you try and agree the terms for this and what is going to happen in the interim whilst you are separated. You need to be aware that such separation agreements are not legally binding on a future family court Judge but they can and do order in line with what was agreed if they considered that full disclosure had taken place and what was agreed was fair.
You also have the issue that you bought the house originally with your ex partner. If you bought the house as joint tenants then the legal starting point is that she is entitled to an equal share of any equity. In reality given that she moved out after one year and you have continued to pay for the house for 21 years then you can ask a court to make a declaration as your interest in the property considering the payments you have made. Try locating your ex using a search agent. There are a few services on line which offer no find no fee services. Your ex may well agree to sign the house over to you and if she doesn't then you can apply for the declaration to your interest in the property. Whatever is your interest will then become part of the matrimonial assets for the proceedings with your wife.
Please do let me know if I can help you further
Positive feedback is gratefully received. Please kindly remember to rate positively by using the stars so that credit is received for helping you today