ToLATA - whether to defer sale of jointly owned property
V and W  EWFC B25
The unmarried couple had been in a relationship from 1995 until 2017. They had two children, aged 14 and 19, and had bought a four-bedroom home in Oxfordshire. Both parties were still residing in the property, although the mother was mostly restricted to a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. She had applied for a declaration under section 14 of ToLATA for declaration of the parties’ respective beneficial entitlement, and an order for sale. The father had made an application under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989 for the applicant’s share of the property to be held on trust for the benefit of the parties’ son until such time as he finished education. One working day before the final hearing, the father conceded that the declaration of beneficial interest should be of 50% shares in the property, leaving the issue of whether the property should be sold, and if so, when. The mother argued for a sale as soon as possible, while the father wished it to be deferred for seven or eight years. HHJ Vincent's impression was that the father did not have a good grasp of the financial implications of the situation and did not like the thought of change, and so had not let himself think about the practical consequences of having to leave the home. HHJ Vincent was also concerned that the younger child's welfare needs were not being met by the current situation. The property would be put on the open market and sold for the best price that could be obtained, although the parties could also consider whether one party might be able to buy out the other’s share. As to costs, the usual order in family cases would be no order as to costs, but this was an application made under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989, and so the unsuccessful party would pay the costs of the successful party.