Legal Q&A: am I entitled to half the house I own with my ex-partner?

My ex-partner and I own a house as joint tenants. Am I entitled to half of it?

Question: My ex-partner sold his former marital home and then we bought a house together. We do not have a mortgage and the transaction was done with cash. We own the house as joint tenants. There is no special provision to protect the money he has put into the house.

We were together for eight years before we split up. As we own the house as joint tenants, am I now entitled to half of it? 

Answer: I don't know whether you and your former partner were married or not, so I'll provide a brief explanation for each case. Firstly, if you and your ex were married, then you do not have an automatic entitlement to a 50 per cent share, as the court has a wide discretion to make an order that is fair in all the circumstances.

If you were married for eight years and the house was the matrimonial home, you will be entitled to a share of the property. The amount of that share will be assessed, taking into account all the other assets that you and your ex own together, with the overriding objective of meeting both your needs.

Secondly, if you and your former partner were not married, then there is no discretion. The rebuttable presumption is that you are entitled to a half-share of the property by virtue of your joint ownership.

However, your ex could try to claim that you should get less than this and would have to argue in detail why. But it isn't easy for him to do so, and he might not succeed.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email 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 is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (
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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