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Buying house while separated

Posted by Casper23 
Buying house while separated
February 06, 2021 02:31PM
Hi there. Myself and my partner are looking to buy a house together. He is in the early stages of divorce and we currently live together.

I understand that it is advised not to buy a house during this process as it is considered a marital asset. I am looking for someone to explain so that we fully understand the risk involved with this.

For example, say we bought a house worth £200k. I put down £25k deposit and he put down £25k deposit. What % of that is considered a marital asset? How is this worked out?

Would I be right in saying that my £25k would remain mine regardless? My understanding (which very well could be wrong!) is that 50% of the equity in the house is mine, 50% equity would be my partners but his ex would be entitled to 25%? Am I completely wrong?

Any info would be much appreciated. I understand this would be worked out on a case by case basis so even some general info please.

(To give you brief background there are no children. His ex is staying in the marital home with no mortgage and will be taking over ownership eventually. Her pension is bigger than his and will keep this entirely. In terms of assets, he has proposed that she gets around 60% of assets and he will get 40% but that’s yet to be agreed)

Re: Buying house while separated
February 06, 2021 06:00PM
I think you have got this wrong. Cases do depend on their own particular facts so what I am about to say relates to the facts as you have explained them and not as an explanation of the law on this point generally.

It is very unlikely in this case that the (ex) wife would have a claim upon the equity in a property you bought jointly with her husband. That is because her housing needs appear to be met by her remaining in the matrimonial home.

Say, for the sake of argument, the matrimonial home is worth £200,000 free of mortgage, that there are no other assets and your partner puts down £25K to buy a property jointly with you. In that case your new partner's presumptive share of the former matrimonial home would not be £100,000. The total assets were £225,000 of which he has already had the benefit of £25,000. To equalise assets therefore his wife's share of the matrimonial home would be treated as £112,500 and his would be treated as £87,500 or 43.75% rather than 50%.

These figures are obviously notional. There may be, for instance, some other reason why it would not be appropriate to divide the available capital equally but I think in the circumstances you describe this is probably how the money which he put into a property with you would be treated. I do not think it would be a question of an ongoing share in the equity in that property.
Re: Buying house while separated
February 07, 2021 10:31AM
Thank you for your thorough response. That makes sense.

I suppose she would have a claim on it if the £25k was the value of their entire assets, but it is not.

I understand that it is still advised against as there are a number of risks involved. Such as if he were to die before the divorce is finalised.
Re: Buying house while separated
February 07, 2021 04:55PM
>>Such as if he were to die before the divorce is finalised.

And what is the risk there exactly? Quite apart from the fact that he would be dead and past caring, the new property would presumably be in joint names so if one joint owner died the deceased's share would accrue automatically to the survivor.
Re: Buying house while separated
February 08, 2021 05:50PM
Thank you David.

I thought that his wife would be entitled to his share and I would become joint owners with her, should that hypothetical scenario occur.
Re: Buying house while separated
February 08, 2021 05:56PM
No, if the house is jointly owned with the girlfriend it will automatically pass to the survivor in the event of the death of either. It would not pass to his wife. It is true that the wife could make some financial claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act but in the circumstances you describe it is almost inconceivable that she could make a claim successfully because she will have been adequately provided for by the remainder of the husband's estate which she will be in possession of.
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