Break-up wasn't my fault... do I need to sell up?

My husband of 22 years left me five years ago for another woman.

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He now wants me to sell the house as the youngest child is 16. It's in joint names. I want to divorce him for adultery but my lawyer says there is no point. And why should I be forced to sell when the break-up was certainly not my fault?

The law separates out the grounds of divorce from the financial and property aspects. Your lawyer's advice is good - a divorce for adultery will not get you a better settlement. While you could certainly proceed on adultery, it would be simpler and cheaper to use separation as the ground of divorce. And if the property is in joint names he can force a sale.

My wife and I have joint accounts. If one dies, does half the account go into the estate of the deceased to be divided between the surviving spouse and children? I understand that children have legal rights, and are entitled to a third of the estate no matter what you put in a will (we have made wills).

There are really two questions here. Firstly, if the accounts are genuinely shared, and not just in joint names for convenience while really belonging to one of you, half of each is part of the deceased's estate. And yes, children have legal rights to a third of the moveable estate (ie money and assets but not the house) - but if you make a will leaving them a bequest or property they have to choose between their bequest and their legal entitlement - they can't have both.

My neighbour has just erected a terrible-looking fence on our back garden boundary - without asking me. We both are owners, and I can't see anything in our title deeds about the right to build a fence or wall or whatever other structure between us.

As long as it is less than 6ft high, your neighbour can normally erect a fence within their own boundaries ( would be a different case if it straddles your side too though) without planning permission or your agreement. But they are not entitled to step on to your property either to build to or to maintain it without your consent. Also check title deeds in case there is a specific rule that applies to their property and/or yours, as this would take precedence.

Going through my late mother's stuff, we came across a signed IOU in her name, dated just days before she came to live with us four years ago. We know that no effort was ever made to repay this £1000, so can we still pursue the debt after all this time?

Yes, the executor of your mum's will or estate can do so (if no will appointing one, you as a child of the deceased can assume this position). Watch out, the debt may prescribe - be no longer enforceable - after five years, so get moving on it if you are still within this period.


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