Gissing v Gissing [1971]

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Gissing v Gissing [1971] A.C. 886

Family law – Matrimonial home – Spouses

Facts

The parties married in their early twenties and the wife worked throughout the marriage as part of a printing company. The husband finished with the army when the wife found a role for him as a printer in the company she worked for. He did well and bought a house in his name, which they both lived before he left to live with someone else. The house purchased was based on the majority of the finance being a mortgage and the rest coming by way of a loan from the printing company. The husband paid the mortgage, gave his wife a living allowance each week and paid for holidays. The wife paid for furniture for the property and her and their son’s clothing. When he left, the wife remained in the house and the husband paid the mortgage. When the divorce was granted the order for maintenance was significantly reduced. The trial judge found that the husband was entitled to possession and the Court of Appeal reversed that decision. The husband appealed.

Issue

The court had to consider whether the wife held any right in the property or whether this solely vested in to the husband.

Held

The court allowed the husband’s appeal. It was found that the wife had not made a contribution to gaining the title to the matrimonial property and this prevented the court from inferring the beneficial interest in it. On this basis, it was deemed that the husband held the sole beneficial interest in the property. The court did give the wife the opportunity to apply for the appropriate relief after the case.

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