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/ 26 Mar 2024

Father ordered to give up his flat for unmarried ex-partner and child for 12 years

A recent ruling at London’s Central Family Court shines a light on the broader implications of financial provision for children in unmarried families. The father’s property became the centre of contention post-separation. Family Partner Emma Baillie provides an overview of the case below and the implications for future cases for unmarried couples.



Head of Family & Divorce

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Most reported cases about financial provision for children of unmarried families involve significant wealth. This latest case, which took place at the Central Family Court in London, is a rare reported case involving more modest assets and therefore has much wider applicability. It is perhaps a significant turning point in what unmarried parents may be asked to provide for their children and it certainly underlines the highly precarious nature of finances when parents are unmarried and the court applies Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 to make financial orders in a child’s best interests.

Unmarried couples and financial provision for children

In this case there was one child and, following the parents’ separation, the child spent more time with their mother than their father. The child and the mother were living in a flat which the father had bought before he met the mother. The court ordered that he should make the flat available to the mother and his elder child to live in for 12 years until that child was 18. This was despite the father seemingly having no other way to buy a property to house himself and his wife and new baby, who would all therefore have to live in rented accommodation, with the increased cost that brought. The flat was mortgaged and therefore the father’s mortgage capacity was severely impacted as well as his capital being tied up.

Whilst there has been at least one example of a similar reported outcome previously where a father had to give up his own home for his child and their mother, the level of potential hardship for the father and his new family in this recent case is highly notable. This decision will give comfort to some parents with care of minor children and cause alarm to some non-resident parents (the parent who does not have the child living with them most of the time).

Certainly, our view is that this is contrary to the financial outcome many people would expect if they have not been married to their child’s other parent.

What can you do to avoid a situation like this?

In this case, the judge acknowledged the outcome might have been different had the father not left the flat when the parents separated or if he had somehow required the mother to leave and rent privately or seek local authority housing before the court made its decision. This underlines the importance of seeking early legal advice on relationship breakdown to understand the protective steps available in each bespoke situation. These are very complex cases, which require a detailed analysis of finances and an excellent understanding of the relevant law.

If you are unmarried and living together, cohabitation agreements can be entered into that can deal with a range of matters such as how you hold any property, how you contribute to the mortgage and other expenses, how you will deal with property and even the care of children on separation.

How Hanne & Co’s family lawyers can help

Our family law solicitors are experts on the law relating to relationship breakdown and are able to advise on the strength of any claim for financial provision for children. Contact Emma Baillie and her team for fast legal support when you need it the most on +44 (0) 207 228 0017 or via the form below


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If you have a query for our family & divorce team, contact one of our lawyers by filling out the form below or call us on +44 (0) 207 228 0017.

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