Question: My marriage is ending and I'm having to contemplate moving out of the home we bought with my wife's parents' help. I need to move out but can't afford to rent and also pay my share of the mortgage, which I understand I have to do or risk forfeiting my share of the matrimonial property. My wife's parents have offered to buy my share which would give me some capital for a new home, but how do I do this while making sure my wife is not then entitled to half of what I buy? I feel stuck in emotional and legal limbo. Please help.
Answer: Moving into rented property and then not paying the mortgage does not necessarily mean you will forfeit any interest in the family home. There are many factors in deciding how to divide assets on marriage breakdown. These include the length of your marriage and any period of cohabitation before it; the ages of the parties; the needs of any children; your respective incomes and income capacity; pensions and inheritances; standard of living during the marriage; any disabilities; contributions made to the home or welfare of the family, and much more besides.
Contributions from parents can often be a tricky area. It is important to recognise the difference between money gifted to you both to help buy your home and money loaned to help purchase it. Once you reach an agreement with your wife it should be included in a legally binding document between you, so that if you buy somewhere else, that property is not the subject of a further claim. Take legal advice at an early stage.
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.
What's your problem? If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (withyking.co.uk).
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