Malika Bouchiba was the main wage earner during her 28-year relationship with Shane Turner
A benefits-claiming therapist who told his breadwinner fiancee she was not getting a penny when they split has been ordered to split their £500,000 family home.
Malika Bouchiba was the main wage earner during her 28-year relationship with Shane Turner and covered almost all the mortgage payments after they bought a ‘family home’ together in 2009, but registered it in Mr Turner’s sole name.
Mr Turner promised his long term partner, with whom he had a child, that he ‘would not screw her’ when they made the decision that his name alone would be on the deeds of the house in Twickenham.
But he changed his tune when the couple split in 2014, telling Miss Bouchiba she had been a ‘guest’ with no financial rights and ‘not entitled to any share’ of the property, where they had lived for two decades, and had a baby together.
That was despite Ms Bouchiba having been the main breadwinner in the family and having covered almost all the mortgage payments on the house until the breakup.
Now Judge Owen Rhys has awarded Ms Bouchiba half the value of the property saying it would be ‘unconscionable’ to allow Mr Turner to have his way and leave her empty-handed.
The judge, who heard the dispute over the property in the First-tier Tribunal, said that the couple, now in their 50s, had got together in 1986 and had a 28-year long relationship, during which they had a son, who is now in his twenties.
They lived ‘as a family’ at a previous address from 1995 to 2008 before looking into buying the Twickenham house.
During that time Miss Bouchiba, a parenting coach, ‘was always in paid employment…she had always taken on the burden of financial support of the family without help from Mr Turner other than in very limited ways,’ she told the judge.
The judge found that Mr Turner had then ‘only worked for short periods’, having heard he split his time between living on benefits and doing part time jobs whilst ‘Miss Bouchiba took on the primary financial burden of maintaining the family.’
However by the time the couple began to look for a home to buy, Mr Turner had a steady job providing therapy services for local authorities.
Because Miss Bouchiba had a poor previous credit record, they were advised that it would be easier to obtain a mortgage if the house was put in Mr Turner’s sole name.
‘When Miss Bouchiba expressed concern about this, Mr Turner stated that she need not worry, that he would not ‘screw her’ and that she would be one of the legal owners of the property in due course,’ the judge said.
They reached an agreement that Mr Turner would put up the £40,000 deposit for the property whilst Miss Bouchiba paid the mortgage and bills.
But after they split Mr Turner denied any such arrangement existed.
‘He claims that Miss Bouchiba lived with him as “My guest” and that he paid for the majority of the expenses and living costs,’ and that ‘any payments made by her were reimbursed in cash,’ the judge said.
‘He continues to live (in the house) and denies that Ms Bouchiba is entitled to any share of it.
She covered almost all the mortgage payments after they bought a ‘family home’ together in 2009, but registered it in Mr Turner’s sole name. Turner went on to claim she was just a ‘guest’
‘She says that she was always intended to be a joint purchaser and joint mortgager. This was to be a family home,’ the judge added.
Mr Turner had ‘denied the significance’ of the relationship between himself and the mother of his child and denied that they were cohabiting, with her footing the bills, for more than a decade prior to buying the house.
Mr Turner also said his ex was ‘a bullying and domineering woman’ and ‘a reckless spendaholic.’
But the judge said that the documentation in relation to her ‘suggests a somewhat different character’
Finding for Miss Bouchiba, the judge called Mr Turner’s version of events ‘incredible.’
‘His evidence as a whole…contains a series of improbable and implausible explanations which are inconsistent with the documents and other verification produced by him,’ he said.
‘By contrast, Ms Bouchiba was a straightforward and candid witness. Her version of the disputed facts was almost always supported by documentation,’ he added.
Mr Turner claimed to have paid back the £17,500 she forked out on the mortgage and bills using cash he made from an ‘under the radar’ sideline business selling Koi carp.
But dismissing his claim, the judge said: ‘Her explanation is far more probable, namely that she was the only one in a financial position to make these payments.’
The judge went on to order that the property cannot now be sold without Miss Bouchiba being given half the equity.
He also ordered Mr Turner to pay her legal costs of the case.
The judge delivered his decision on the dispute in May, but it has only just been published.