Q: I am married with a 3-year old son but my wife and I are separated. My wife lives with our son in our property we bought in joint names and I still pay the mortgage as she is not working. Now she has met someone else, who wants to move in with her. I am not happy about this as I am struggling financially. Could I charge my wife’s new partner rent as I own half the house and pay the mortgage?
A: As you and your wife own the house it is unlikely her new partner could be considered a tenant, and therefore you would have no legal right to charge him rent. He should however have your permission to move into the property and you could discuss the extent of his financial contribution to the outgoings to reduce the financial burden on you. There is a right to occupational rent that arises as you have moved out of the property, irrespective of your wife’s partner moving in, which would allow you to be credited an amount to reflect your wife benefiting from sole occupation and use of the joint property.
This may be the time to legally formalise the situation in relation to your joint property, though you cannot go to court to do that without first attempting to resolve issues and agree arrangements relating to money, children and other consequences of your separation using the Mediation process.
Mediation is a voluntary process whereby, with the help of a trained, impartial Mediator, you and your wife can talk through all separation issues. The number of Mediation sessions you need depends on the requirements of both of you and the complexity of the case. We would advise that you discuss your options with a family law specialist to resolve matters as amicably, swiftly and cost effectively as possible.