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Family Law: Woman wins appeal preventing ex from taking half of property

A couple who split up nearly 20 years ago have finally had their property dispute settled at the Supreme Court, with the ruling being made in the woman's favour.

Patricia Jones and her ex-partner Leonard Kernott had bought a house together in 1985 in joint names and with a joint mortgage.

The couple lived there for eight years before they separated. Then Mr Kernott moved out and left Ms Jones to pay the mortgage and upkeep of the house, as well as looking after their two children.

Initially, legal action between the couple took place at a county court which ruled that the property should be divided between them with 90% of the value going to Ms Jones and 10% to Mr Kernott.

Unhappy with this decision, Mr Kernott took his case to the Court of Appeal where it was decided that, since the couple owned equal shares of the house when they separated, the division of property should be 50-50.

Finally, Ms Jones appealed to the Supreme Court where five judges ruled that a 50-50 split was not fair and in fact the original 90-10 split was "a fair one as between the parties".

Mr Kernott said: "I never wanted 50% - I thought 25% would be a fair reflection of what I had put into the property. When I lived there, I paid for everything and I completely refurbished the place.

"I have been painted as this ogre who walked out on his family. I love my family, I didn't want to leave but it was made unbearable for me to stay.

"It's a sad day for men who are left in a similar position to me and it feels like the law will always side with the woman. I'm battling a serious illness and that is more important to me right now. I just want to put all of this behind me."

The ruling will have great significance for the two million or more co-habiting couples in England and Wales.

Related links:
Cohabitee legal rights and responsibilities (FindLaw)
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