FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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My son has been married for 11 years. He married when he was 50 years old and, when he did so, he moved into his wife’s house which comprised not only a large property, but also an adjacent annexe and, because I have mobility problems, my son and his wife agreed that I should move into the annexe and I have lived there ever since.
I live on a very small State Pension and I do not pay any rent for my accommodation. I always thought that I would be here until my death, or until I was forced to go into a home.
My son’s wife is extremely wealthy, though my son has very little. He has been maintained by his wife, as in reality have I, throughout the marriage, but my daughter-in-law has now said that she wants to divorce.
I am very frightened indeed for my own future. My son is depressed, but he says that under divorce law his wife will have to look after him in the future, or let him have enough of her capital to make sure that he is alright.
I am, however, very frightened for myself. Do I have any rights at all?
I think you do. I suspect that, to a degree, your position will depend upon precisely how wealthy your daughter-in-law is, but if she is extremely wealthy, then I think that your son is entitled to ask his wife, by way of financial settlement on divorce, not only for enough to support himself, but also for money to support you.
In a very similar case dealt with by the Courts last year (WA -v- Executors of the Estate of HA and others (215) EWHC 2233 [FAM]), the Court decided that in a divorce case it was not unreasonable to take the view that a son would assist with the funding of his mother’s accommodation needs on the basis that he had historically been doing this with the help of his wife’s money.
It seems to me that your position is precisely the same as the elderly lady in this case and I therefore think that you should speak to your son, and indeed his Solicitor, with a view to ensuring that your son asks for sufficient from his wife to accommodate you as well as himself and not necessarily in the same property.