An unmarried woman who had three children with her older partner, has been granted the whole net proceeds of sale from a house which was in her sole name, albeit purchased by her partner. Which raises the question, during cohabitation; ‘who gets the house?’
The young woman met her former partner, a property developer, when she was still in school. The Judge found that she was “besotted by, wholly dependent on and trusting of him”. She went on to have three children with him but he would not commit to marrying her. Indeed, it was found that he, “publicly humiliated” her by getting down on bended knee in front of the whole family- before whispering in her ear that he wouldn’t marry her in case someone better came along.
The court found that she had been worried about her financial situation as she was a full-time mother and solely reliant upon her ex-partner. The Judge was satisfied that it was intended that the property was put into her sole name to give her security. Her ex-partner argued that he had never intended the property to be his ex-partner’s and that he had only put the house in her sole name as it was easier to secure a mortgage. He submitted that his ex-partner was aware that he never intended to give the property to her and that she, “knew and understood he was the sole absolute owner”. However, the court disagreed and found that the cash he put into buying the house was a trade-off “for no marital security” and the “price of not marrying her”. The Judge found that he had no interest in the property and the net proceeds of sale were awarded to her, together with an order that he pay her costs.
This case highlights how important it is to set out how a property is to be held, particularly when not married. This would not necessarily have protected this individual but it is important that consideration is always given to how a property is to be held and also whether a cohabitation agreement is required.