Can my ex throw me out of our home?

Does my ex have the right to get me thrown out of the house we jointly own?

Question: My partner and I are splitting up and she keeps saying I must move out of our house. We own it under a joint tenancy but I pay the bills and mortgage and I paid the deposit when we bought the place. We are not married. She has three children who are not mine, and who live with us 50 per cent of the time and the rest with their dad. There is no violence or abuse, just arguing, so what right does she have to get me thrown out?

Answer: Many people believe cohabiting couples have the same legal protection as married couples, but there is no status in English law as a common-law spouse or partner.

On the face of it, if you and your partner own the house as joint tenants you are each entitled to a half share of the sale proceeds if you separate. This is so even if you have contributed more financially — and therefore the fact that you paid the deposit and you pay all the bills and the mortgage instalments is likely to be irrelevant.

However, do remember that this can vary depending on the specific facts of your case. You may, for example, have entered into an agreement such as a declaration of trust, or had a cohabitation agreement when you bought the property.

The law surrounding partners who live together as opposed to married couples is a complex area, and it is important that you seek legal advice if you wish to challenge the usual 50/50 split.

You do not have to leave the house just because your partner wants you to. You can only be required to leave if a court grants an injunction order for you to do so. Such orders are reserved for the most difficult cases or circumstances, and from the information you have given it does not sound as though your situation warrants that.

What's your problem?
If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (www.withyking.co.uk).

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor. 


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