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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12190
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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My son is currently going through a pretty messy separation

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My son is currently going through a pretty messy separation from his ex finace. He has now agreed to settle with her on what I think is an absolutely outrageous basis but he has no will for the fight and given what he is up against I can kind of understand it.
However my wife and I have much more appetite for a fight given there unrelenting attempts to humiliate our family.
Bare facts:
Bought house together approx 18 months ago
Roughly equal amounts of cash were invested by both sides. On her side is was around 20k from the equity of her previous house plus some help from her parents. I think about 13k was equity but could be a bit higher.
On our side it was in total 23k but here is the bone of contention:
My mother in law gave them 10k and my wife and I gave them 7k towards the purchase price of the new house. My wife then signed a document that told the bank/building society that the 17k was a non repayable amount. Only reason for doing so was so that the bank/building society would grant the mortgage.
They are now refusing to accept that 17k as being part of the overall settlement on the sale of the house (they are buying my son out although "buying" is not quite the word I would use. Stealing is more appropriate).
They are claiming that as the 17k was a gift it is not relevant as part of the overall settlement agreement as and I quote "Robbie (my son) contributed nothing". Well apart from a 4.5k engagement ring and a 1k credit card bill that is.
My sons solicitor advised him that upon the buyout he would be entitled to about 8k (bearing in mind the loss of equity in the property as it was bought brand new). They have offered him (and after them dragging this out for 4 months he has now accepted) 2k.
The difference of 6k is basically caused by 50% share this 17k less half of the cash that they had spent on wedding plans (which was something else my son agreed to that I was very unhappy about given that we had absolutely no say in what they did. In fact we were told in no uncertain terms to keep our noses out).
She still lives in the property (a brand new 4 bedroom detatched) and I would guess intends to stay there. My son is still paying half of the mortgage hence his reluctance to drag this out any further.
So 2 questions:
1. Can my wife and I take out a separate civil action regarding their refusal to include the 17k "gift" as a valid contribution as it was a cash injection supplied by us and my mother-in-law (who is 80 by the way) in the first place?
2. If we can, would that make my son's voluntary settlement null and void and therefore throw him back into limbo?
Many thanks and regards
Malcolm Desira
Thank you for your question.
If your son reaches a settlement then that is the settlement. You will not be able to interfere with that. If you and your mother in law decide to sue for the £17k you will have to sue both of them and you will have to establish that you made a loan of the money, not a gift. Given your narrative you are unlikely to succeed in the action.
As I understand it part of the problem is that the property has devalued in any event so both of them have to bear the loss of value.
If your son has decided to reach this settlement, I hold out no hope at all that you can interfere with that. Generally I don't think you have a legal right or title to sue for the reasons I give above.
I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
JGM and other Scots Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Many thanks for the reply. It is pretty much what I thought but can I just check 2 specific things with you please?

1. Not looking to get the 17k back, just the 6k difference between what they have offered and what my son is entitled to although I'm guessing that doesn't alter anything

2. If we hadn't have given them the 17k, the mortgage would not have been approved. The document my wife signed was purely to confirm that we were not going to ask for repayment otherwise they would have exceeded what the bank/building society said was the maximum outgoings that they would consider. Does that not make the gift a contribution to the purchase of the house?

Very reluctantly accept what you say about whatever my son has settled for then that's it, but this does have all the feel of a complete stitch up.

Thanks again


1. This is a stateable argument but one which would have to be made by your son, not you and if he has reached a settlement then that is it really.
2. It is a contribution to the house but it is a gifted contribution. It doesn't change my comments above, I'm afraid.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok thanks for replying so quickly, much appreciated. My gut feel was pretty much what you have said, but had to find out for sure. Would have kicked myself for the rest of my life if we had missed an opportunity to put this injustice right.

She now ends up with a brand new 4 bed detatched house with all the possible designer nonsense you can imagine. None of which would have been possible without us. We even paid to have the garden done on top of the 17k, so you can probably understand how irritated we are. It's not just the money either, it's been the way we've been treated i.e. Facebook etc, but looks like we're snookered, so just have to swallow it.

Thanks again for your quick turn around