Warning to unmarried couples over home rights
By JAMES MILLS
Last updated at 23:43pm on 25th April 2007
Unmarried couples were warned yesterday of the financial pitfalls of buying property together after a landmark ruling by the House of Lords.
They were urged to draw up legal agreements to avoid costly legal battles if they break up - as joint ownership is not enough to ensure a simple 50/50 split of the property.
This is the same Law Lords that declared pre-nups void,well I guess only for protecting men and I'm sure they will find a way to fuck men on this too.
The warnings came as five Law Lords ruled that Barry Stack, a 51-year-old father-of-four, was not entitled to an equal share of the family home he had shared with Dehra Dowden, his partner of more than 20 years and mother of his children.
The Lords concluded that Miss Dowden, 49 - who earns twice as much as Mr Stack as an electrical engineer - deserved a larger slice because she had contributed more money to the purchase.
I'm sure if he made more money than her she would still get the larger size because of "all that she did for his career" and "the sacrifices she made" or some other rubbish.
Mr Stack now faces a crippling bill of up to £100,000 after losing his challenge against an earlier ruling that gave Miss Dowden a 65 per cent share of their £750,000 home.
The case could have consequences for millions of others as increasing numbers of couples buy homes and bring up families without getting married.
Partners who stay at home to look after the children, and therefore do not contribute as much financially, could also be forced into legal disputes over their property rights.
The case will serve as a further warning to the growing numbers of friends and relatives who buy property together.
According to the last census in 2001, one in six couples who live together are unmarried - a rise of 67 per cent in ten years. This figure is expected to rise to one in four by 2031.
But there are no clear laws setting out how assets should be split between such couples if their relationships break down as divorce laws do not apply.
In yesterday's judgement, Baroness Hale urged unmarried couples to sign 'declarations of trust' - making their shares in the property clear - in order to avoid expensive legal wrangles.
This is probably the cunt who ruining everything for men in the U.K.
She said: 'In family disputes, strong feelings are aroused when couples split up.
'These often lead the parties, honestly but mistakenly, to reinterpret the past in self-exculpatory or vengeful terms.
'They also lead people to spend far more on the legal battle than is warranted by the sums actually at stake.'
Baroness Hale also expressed concern that too many couples believed the myth of common law marriage, which wrongly assumes that co-habiting couples enjoy the same rights as married couples if they stay together long enough.
Lord Hope added that determining property rights in such cases had 'become an increasingly pressing social problem.'
William Selby-Lowndes, an expert on co-habitation family law, said: 'This is a warning for co-habiting couples that if they do not work out how they own any property together, it can be a very expensive and disappointing exercise when they separate.'
Mr Stack and Miss Dowden's relationship began in 1975 when they were both in their late teens.
They moved in together in 1983 when Miss Dowden bought a house in her name in Kensal Green, North London, for £30,000. She put down a deposit of £8,000 and secured a mortgage for £22,000.
Mr Stack claims that he made a contribution to the deposit which Miss Dowden disputes.
She also claims that he did not want his name on the deeds because 'he did not want the responsibility of the mortgage or household debts and running costs.'
Their four children were born between 1987 and 1991, during which time Mr Stack took a £24,000-a-year building job with a local council, where he is still employed. Miss Bowden earns £42,000 a year as an electrical engineer.
They used childminders and nannies to look after the children.
In 1993 the couple bought a home in both their names in nearby Willesden Green for £190,000. They used £66,000 profits from the sale of their previous home, a £65,000 mortgage and £59,000 of savings.
Miss Dowden repaid £38,000 of the loan while Mr Stack repaid the remaining £27,000.
When they split in 2002, a county court ruled that Mr Stack should get a 50 per cent share of the property. Miss Dowden took the case to the Appeal Court and won a 65 per cent share - £112,000 more than she was previously awarded.
Mr Stack went on to appeal to the House of Lords. During a four-day hearing in February, Miss Dowden said: 'Barry says £30,000 came from our joint savings. This is not true. We did not have a joint bank account.
'All the money was mine. I earned it from working hard at my job.'