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Looking after a Child – Their Home

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Often when considering the day to day care of a child we think about who they are to live with on particular days of the week.

However, there is another issue that is sometimes overlooked, which is what can be done to ensure that your son or daughter grows up living in reasonable housing whoever they are staying with.

The reality is that the financial circumstances of 2 parents when they are not living together can be very different. Issues of income can be dealt with through child maintenance either being agreed or provided through the Child Maintenance Service, but what about capital to help with housing?

We acted for a father who separated from his partner when their daughter was very young. He was content to know that the child had stable and secure accommodation in a house he jointly owned with her mother. He recognised that much of his capital resources were tied up, but he considered that those were being put to good use in providing a home for his child, while also being a secure investment in a property.

Difficult circumstances arose when the mother sought to claim she was entitled to a 100% interest in the property. We succinctly and effectively challenged that claim evidencing that she and the father held the property as beneficial joint tenants on a 50/50 basis.

After this, the mother decided unilaterally to move to another part of the country, then claiming that she was entitled to 100% of the equity in the property under Schedule 1 of the Children Act so that she could rehouse both herself and her daughter, and she immediately issued an application to the Court on that basis.

Within proceedings, full financial disclosure was ordered, including as a result of the challenge that we made on the father’s behalf as to the extent to which the mother was able to fund a significant proportion of an alternative house purchase herself. However, he recognised that there was a shortfall that needed to be made up so that his daughter could live in a property owned by her mother, rather than living in rented accommodation, while she was growing up.

Within the Court process, negotiations managed to reach a settlement that a Judge recognised as both sensible and practical. The property jointly owned by the father and the mother was to be sold and their entitlement to 50% each of the arising net proceeds was acknowledged.

However, from the father’s share he would provide an amount as an additional contribution to enable his daughter and her mother to be rehoused through another property being purchased. The balance of his 50% was to be released to him immediately, and his contribution to the mother’s property was to be protected by a legal charge, with those arising monies to be paid back to him at the latest when his daughter became an adult.

The reflections of the father were that he found proceedings very difficult, particularly with the confrontational attitude adopted by his former partner. However, he was content with the outcome. His disappointment was that he considered this to be a matter that was capable of resolution at a very early stage if there had been a positive discussion in negotiations or within mediation, focussed on achieving a practical outcome that worked for everyone.

If you would want to know more about capital monies for the rehousing of a child, please contact the family team.

Edward Rawlins

Posted:

Edward Rawlins

Partner

Ed has over 20 years experience as a specialist advising on situations arising from the breakdown in relationships (marriage, civil partnerships and cohabitation) in respect of both children, finances and business assets. He is a member of Resolution and a Law Society Accredited Family Mediator.