Michael Burton, from Notton near Wakefield, has been ordered to sell his £435,000 home and give a share of the proceeds to his former partner, Kristina Linden. Burton claimed that Linden was all but a lodger and as such had no claim over the property.
The couple began their relationship in 1995 when Mr Burton was on a business trip to Scandinavia – and still married to his later ex-wife. They spent the first 6 of their 18 year relationship in Sweden before moving into the house, which Burton has previously shared with his then-wife.
Once Linden moved in, Burton insisted she make a financial contribution towards the cost of living there. Over the twelve years they were there she paid £70,000 towards the mortgage and other running costs. Linden reportedly told the court that Burton had said it would have been too expensive for him to keep the house on otherwise.
She went on to say that Burton had told her he would support her forever, including making her a beneficiary in his will, and at one point proposing marriage. However, their relationship ended in what The Telegraph called circumstances “of some acrimony”, after which Linden was made to leave the property with no remuneration.
As Vardags trainee solicitor Kathryn Mason reported earlier this year, there is no such thing as a common law marriage, contrary to popular belief. That said, in Linden’s case, it was her financial contribution that was taken into account, not her status as Mr Burton’s spouse. The judge came to the conclusion that Linden would not have moved to the UK simply to be a lodger – or for better equestrian opportunities, as Burton suggested to the court – and that had she been under the impression she was simply paying rent, she would have found those payments to be unreasonably high.
Mr Burton’s attempt to take the case to the Court of Appeals has been dismissed, and he will now have to pay Ms Linden £33,552 once the house has been sold.