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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12183
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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My son and his fiance have split

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My son and his fiance have split after a 3 year relationship. They bought a house together which is now the subject a dispute along with other financial items. Could you let me know if possible what the likely worst case scenario would be for my son in terms of the financial settlement that may come about? We are dealing with Scottish law here by the way. They lived together for approx 15 months. She sold her original house and once the mortgage on that was repaid put the equity into the new house. Not sure exactly how much that was but I believe it to be around 13k. My son had saved 3.5k and between myself, my wife and mother-in-law we added a further 19k so the total investment in the new property from our side was 22.5k. Now the tricky bit. Her family spent approx 3k on wedding plans much of which I believe was not refundable and my sons's ex fiance ran up a credit card bill of 7k buying designer stuff for the house. They are claiming that 10k back from my son, despite the fact that she is in possession of an engagement ring which cost my son 4k and my son has a 1k credit card bill himself brought about from buying additional items for the new house. I don't suppose it matters that my son and my wife were completely excluded from the wedding planning and I do mean COMPLETELY excluded. In addition to the investment we made directly in the new property, we also paid 800 pounds to get their lawn laid, so total outlay is actually 23.3k Not entirely sure what would satisfy my son from the financial point of view but my own view is that she (they) have absolutely no right whatsoever to try and get the credit card bill or wedding expenses back. Their argument on the credit card is that my wife said that she would help them with it once her inheritance had come through, but they split about 6 weeks before all the legal stuff on the inheritance was sorted out. If the property was to be sold at market value the view of the solicitors on both sides of the argument is that the equity would be somewhere between 12 and 20k. All we are seeking from that is a 50% share. Nothing more and nothing less. Given all the facts above is our position reasonable and more to the point is it legal? Many thanks in advance for your help Kind Regards ***** *****

Thank you for your question.
The starting position with a cohabiting couple is that a house would be divided and sold in accordance with the title, ie, equally, unless the title specified otherwise.
Where there are other issues such as those narrated by you, such as varying financial contributions to the relationship, then section 28 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 applies. See this Act online as well as cases such as Gow v Grant which have been decided by the courts.
In brief, section 28 allows the court to make a financial order to one party to a relationship where that party has been financially disadvantaged because of financial contributions made by that party in the interests of the other party. The court can also take account of any "offset" contributions by the other party. In other words, the court has to take account of the contributions of both to see if there is to be any balancing exercise made to ensure fairness on a separation.
Whilst the court won't add up every penny, it will redress any imbalance which is manifestly unfair to one or other of the parties.
From your narrative, there appears to be a contribution on her side of £23k and £22.5k on that of your son, plus another £1k credit card. He may have to write off the cost of the ring. The inheritance issue is irrelevant.
Your argument for a 50% split is a good one in my view.
I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you very much for your guidance, it really is a great help. Much appreciated