Wednesday 13 December 2017

Will my 25pc share in house be diluted?

When my marriage broke up eight years ago I retained a 25pc stake in our house, where my ex-wife lives with our children and her boyfriend. We have a small mortgage which I pay. I understand the boyfriend will become, de facto, her "civil partner" after five years. Could this dilute my ownership of the house if they split up?

I imagine there are many co-habiting couples out there who still don't realise that their relationship may well have acquired legal status, conferring rights in the event of separation similar to those of marriage, with the advent of the Civil Partnership Act.

Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors says the boyfriend will qualify as a cohabitant if he is living with your ex-wife for five years or if they have children together, after two years.

After that stage should their relationship end, he can then apply to court under the redress scheme for a range of orders similar to, although not quite as extensive as, those available to a married couple who separate

The court will decide based on individual circumstances.

One of the options available to the boyfriend is a property adjustment order similar to the one you would have entered with your ex-wife giving you a 25pc share in the property. It is notable that you are still paying the mortgage on the property and so her boyfriend could not claim any direct contribution towards it.

In all circumstances this adjustment order would be against your wife's share of the property, ie the 75pc.

It should be noted that the Act does allow for co-habiting couples to opt out by way of written agreement and this could still be done between your ex-wife and her boyfriend to protect the property by expressly providing that neither of the parties may apply for property adjustment orders from the other.

We sold our house quicker than expected last January and put the €340,000 sale proceeds on deposit with Bank of Ireland. We have been renting since then and drawing down some of the money while we search for a house to retire to. I understood all deposits are guaranteed in Irish banks but read that this may change? Is our money safe?

Currently all deposits in Irish banks are fully guaranteed by the taxpayer.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) is examining whether this blanket guarantee could be lifted as it costs the banks €1bn in fees to the Exchequer.

When it was introduced in 2008 the State was liable to cover €375bn for all liabilities. The extent of the liabilities is now just €90bn, of which 69pc are customers' deposits.

The guarantee itself is rolled over each year. In any event, even if it is removed, there is a separate guarantee scheme which covers all deposits up to €100,000 each. There is no talk of changing this.

You could split the €340,000 between three or four institutions for a belt and braces solution, but nothing will happen without notice.

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