Property advice following divorce

Hello,

I’m seeking property advice following the divorce of my parents.

Background information:

My parents bought a property together in the early 1980s but they then divorced in the mid 1990s. My dad moved out of the property prior to the divorce whereas my mum remained in the property (along with me and my older brother) and she has lived there ever since; both my brother and I have now moved out of the property.

My parents divorce was never properly settled through court. My dad paid my mum an allowance until me and my brother had finished university, which was in 2010, but since then he has not paid my mum any money. My mum continued to pay the mortgage on the property (it was paid off around five years ago) and also maintained the property after my dad had moved out. In particular, she paid for a new kitchen and bathroom, which will have likely added value to the property.

My mum and dad are still listed as ‘joint tenants’ on the property, meaning that they each have a 50 per cent share, and if either one of them were to die then their half would go to the other party.

Current situation:

Both my mum and my dad would like the property to be passed on to my brother and I but there may be a situation in the future where either party needs the property to be sold (e.g. if either my mum or dad needed the money for health reasons).

The ownership of the property must be changed to ‘tenants in common’ so that both my mum and dad can leave their share to my brother and I, rather than their share going to the other party. If this were to happen, would the share of the property remain at 50 per cent for each party, or is this something that may have to be settled in court? The reason for asking is that with my mum having paid the mortgage and maintained the property over the last 20 or so years, it seems slightly unfair for my dad to still have a 50 per cent share of the current market value of the property.

If anyone has experienced a similar situation to the above it would be great to hear what your outcome was.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Comments

  • SmlSave
    SmlSave Posts: 4,911
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    Changing the property to tenants in common is easily done with the Land Registry.
    https://www.gov.uk/joint-property-ownership/change-from-joint-tenants-to-tenants-in-common

    The Land Registry don't generally record the shares held however.

    If your parents are in agreement then the best thing to do is:

    Get a Trust Deed done which states the shares the property are held in and register with the Land Registry.

    Get their Wills redone so it clearly states what they want done with their share of the house. Often a right to reside is included so the surviving owner can stay in the property

    I'm assuming that things are amicable though between parties
    Currently studying for a Diploma - wish me luck :)

    Phase 1 - Emergency Fund - Complete :j
    Phase 2 - £20,000 Mortgage Fund - Underway
  • Thanks for the response SmlSave – much appreciated!

    I had already looked on the gov.uk website and was surprised to see how easy it is to change from ‘joint tenants’ to ‘tenants in common’, especially given the fact that this change can be made even if both owners do not agree to it.

    The thing that makes it slightly more complicated in my parents’ situation is the fact that they are not in full agreement over the shares of the property. While things remain amicable, my mum does not believe that my dad should have a 50 per cent share of the property as he has not lived there for approximately 20 years and has not maintained the property during this time.

    As for the right to reside in the property, this is something that my mum would welcome as having the security to live in a property until she passes away is her highest priority. However, I do not believe that my dad will agree to this as he may need money from the property at some point in the future if his current situation were to change (e.g. if he took a turn for the worse and needed the money for health care reasons). Similarly, my mum may also need money from the property if the same were to happen to her.

    As you can see it’s a bit of a tricky situation. If anyone else has been through something similar it’d be great to hear how you got on and what the overall outcome was.

    Many thanks,
  • pogofish
    pogofish Posts: 10,852
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    My head is spinning at the thought of the relationships implied by your posting here! :eek:

    You may do a lot better on the Housing Board! :)
  • kingfisherblue
    kingfisherblue Posts: 9,203
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    I am divorced and because of specific circumstances, I will remain in the marital home for many more years, far beyond my children becoming adults. The judge specified a 50/50 split when the house is eventually sold, although my ex hasn't paid a penny towards it for over eleven years, and won't be paying anything in the future. However, as the judge pointed out, my ex cannot benefit from his share of the property for many years, so he can't use it, for example, to put down a deposit (the house is worth around £140k and we bought it for £48k).

    As your dad has not had the benefit of living in a house that he had previously contributed towards, nor been able to use any money invested in it, it seems to be a similar situation. In addition, he has probably had to pay to live elsewhere (rent?).

    Your mum was also extremely fortunate to receive an allowance from your dad, and for so long. Spousal maintenance is rare. It is possible that your mum would have been unable to pay the mortgage or house improvements if she had not received the allowance.

    It sounds as though your dad deserves his 50% share. Your mum has benefited for many years, and although I can see why she thinks she deserves a higher percentage, I don't think that she has considered it from all viewpoints.
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