Question: I split from my partner five years ago and left her living in our house with our children. I haven't pushed for the house to be sold as they need somewhere to live and I always thought the money I had invested in the house was safe. But does the latest judgement of Kernott v Jones change things?
© Merrily Harpur
Answer: It depends on your personal circumstances and any agreements you made with your partner. Many couples buy homes together without giving much thought as to who owns what share.
You may have ticked a box on the transfer form when you first bought the house to say whether you wished your share of the property to pass to your partner upon death (that's a joint tenancy) or by way of your will (tenants in common). If you paid unequal deposits your solicitor may have drawn up a further document or deed to record that.
Problems arise in those cases where there is no clear evidence available. In the case you read about, of Kernott v Jones, the couple separated leaving Ms Jones and the children in the family home. There was an attempt to sell the house but this failed so the couple cashed in an insurance policy and Mr Kernott bought another property.
Over the course of the next 13 years Mr Kernott contributed nothing towards the family household. In the absence of any evidence as to what their intended shares might be the court decided to reach a "fair" outcome that Mr Kernott keeps his property and also has a 10 per cent share of the family home.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.