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Woman challenges partner’s wife over home

A woman has launched a legal bid for a share in her late partner’s home after his share went to his estranged wife.

The 69 year-old lived with her partner for 18 years until the former dentist died from a heart attack in 2012. The couple owned the house as ‘tenants in common’, which means that they both had a share of the property. In such arrangements, one partner’s share does not automatically go to the other upon their death and must be stipulated in a will.

In this case, however, the 72 year-old dentist had not updated his will to reflect his new relationship status, nor had he officially divorced. As a result, his share of the £355,000 three-bedroom bungalow in Dorchester, Dorset was transferred to his wife.

The man’s wife now wants to sell the property. As his partner of almost two decades cannot afford to buy out his share of the house, she could end up homeless her lawyers have claimed.

The case illustrates the need for a cohabitation law in England and Wales, the woman’s legal team insisted, as people who live together “do not have the same rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership”.

The 69 year-old’s application is currently under consideration at London County Court and is expected to continue until Thursday, the BBC reports.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    You and I will not agree about the merits or otherwise of a cohabitation law; but if we ever get one I hope it will not create rights for cohabitees at the expense of their partners’ spouses. This lady could have brought a claim under the 1975 Act and you have to wonder why she did not. She could have claimed and might have got his half of the house; but she might still have faced a TOLATA claim for sale which would probably have succeeded.
    You also have to wonder why there was no divorce – was the dentist concerned that he might lose the house?
    This lady cuts a sympathetic figure but there is another party here whose rights cannot be ignored: the widow.

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