Dividing Family Assets

Breaking up can be hard to do, but Berry Smith Lawyers can help make it as stress-free as possible

Q – My partner and I split up 13 years ago after buying a house together four years previously. I have continued to live here and have paid the mortgage ever since. I would like to reach a settlement with her so that I can change the title and the mortgage back to my sole name but I am led to believe that my ex-partner is living abroad. What share of the value of the house will she be entitled to?

A –  It’s always much better to get these things sorted out at the time. Although the Court can divide shares in jointly owned property, you are first going to have to make efforts to try and trace her so that she can be served with the documents. If you cannot track her down through your own enquiries, then you should engage a tracing agency to try and locate her.

In terms of settlement, much will depend on the nature of your joint ownership, whether it is joint tenancy, i.e. survivor takes all, or tenants in common, whereby each has a declared % ownership. Most joint owners in this country hold as joint tenants which means you would need to give your ex-partner half of the present equity. There are still arguments which can be made about your having reduced the capital balance on the mortgage and paid for improvement works over the years which would have enhanced the value of the property. It would be sensible to see a solicitor to try and calculate a fair settlement.

Please feel free to contact our family team for advice on a whole range of family matters on 02920 345511. www.berrysmith.com