Court orders sale of family home after couple separate
The Family Court has granted a woman’s application to have the home she shared with her former partner sold, even though their son was still living there.
The couple had been in a relationship from 1995 until 2017 and had two children. One was aged 19, and referred to in court as D; the other was 14 and referred to as E.
The woman was an accountant earning £4,500 net a month. Due to illness, her partner had been unable to work since 2015 and had limited income. Since their separation, both parties had continued to live in the house with E but the woman had been made to feel unwelcome by her partner and mostly stayed in her bedroom.
She wanted the house to be sold as soon as possible so they could share the assets, but her partner wanted to wait until E turned 21 or finished his education, whichever was later.
He applied under the Children Act 1989 for the woman's share of the property to be held on trust for the benefit of E until he finished education, and then to revert to her. He submitted that E's welfare was only met by continuing to live in the family home near his school and paternal relatives.
She contended that it was not good for E's welfare to remain living in the difficult environment and his school had expressed concern about the impact of the home atmosphere on him.
The court found in favour of the woman. It held that E needed security and stability and his welfare needs were not being met by the current situation. The court was not persuaded that his physical needs could only be met by his continuing to live in the family home.
There was enough equity in the house to discharge the mortgage but if sale was delayed, the parties would be taking a risk on its value. It would not be reasonable to expect the woman to continue to contribute towards the mortgage in circumstances where she was not living at the house.
The partner was not able to provide evidence of how he proposed to find funds to keep the house in a good state of repair if a sale was delayed and there was a risk that it could be repossessed if he could not meet the mortgage payments.
The parties needed to be able to live separately in accommodation that enabled their children to spend time with them. The woman's financial stability was at risk if the house was not sold for up to eight years. The house should therefore be put on the open market as soon as reasonably practicable.
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Case Citations: V v W (2020)Fam Ct (Judge Vincent)
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