Cohabitee loses bid to claim half of former partner’s property fortune

A woman has failed in her bid to claim half of her ex-boyfriend’s property portfolio, highlighting the dangers of cohabitation in the UK.

Gillian Turner claimed that her partner, Michael Durant, had promised to marry her and give her half of his fortune.

But Judge Alan Johns QC, presiding over the case, said it was “hard to believe” a deal would not have been put in writing.

He ruled that Mr Durant had never promised to cut her into his business, Lodge House Ltd.

The Court heard how the couple had been cohabiting since the late eighties to 2014. They have a son together and lived in a £1.1 million Hertfordshire family home.

Ms Turner said Mr Durant made the promise to hand over half of his fortune if she invested her £200,00 live savings into their new home, as he used his cash to grow the business.

“He was saying how this was a new start for us and how much he loved me. He also said we are going to get married,” Ms Turner told the Court

“I always lived in hope that we would stay together. I thought it was forever,” she added.

“I’m not sure as to the company’s value, but he said things were doing very well, he had lots of rental property, he was buying lots of land, and building seven bungalows, and they were going to sell for £250,000 each.”

Mr Durant denied the existence of such conversation.

Judge Johns said: “That there is no trace of the agreement in documents… is particularly striking in circumstances where Miss Turner clearly did not trust Mr Durant.

“It is hard to believe, with that lack of trust, that she would have simply rested on his word to transfer the business without getting anything in writing.”

He said Mr Durant – a “driven and ambitious” self-made man – was “most unlikely” to agree to part with half of his business.

“I reject Miss Turner’s evidence that Mr Durant promised marriage,” he added.

Ms Turner was also ordered to pay legal costs.

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell Turner Garrett in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.
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