What happens when the family home is in your name, but you leave it after a relationship break down – are your rights affected if your ex-partner dies or if they meet a new partner? I talk with Susan Edmunds from Stuff who answers a reader’s query.
Q: I have a house with nothing owing on it in only my name. I have just moved out of it due to a relationship breakdown and have left my partner of 25 years in the house. My grandson and I are renting a flat. My ex partner has two children and I have two children. They are all over the age of 30. My ex refuses to write a will. My main question is if my ex partner dies before me will his children have a claim on my house. also if my ex meets another woman and she moves into the house in question would she have a claim on the house. I’m sorry this seems so messy.
A: I asked Jeremy Sutton, a lawyer who specialises in helping people going through divorce, to answer this one.
He said, if you haven’t resolved your relationship property issues, that is probably the priority. You can do this by coming to an agreement, through the family court or via mediation.
If he dies before you and does not have a will, his children would have a claim to the property.
If he met another woman, and was with her for three years, she would also be able to claim his half-share but would not be able to claim yours.
Sutton said you could make an application to to sell the house and share the proceeds or claim for occupational rental so that the has to compensate you for the time he’s been staying there rent-free while you’ve been paying to live elsewhere.
“You have given up your position of power by moving out of the house, but you still have many options available to you. The main priority for you is to resolve your relationship property matters since separation,” Sutton said.
“Alongside this, you should also be updating or making a new Will if you have not already. This will ensure that your estate is not accidentally left to your ex-partner. Where there are blended families, a will is even more crucial.”