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Matrimonial home anomaly

13 Mar 17

A surviving spouse's rights can still be very limited where there is a will

I have recently come across what I see as a serious anomaly in the law of succession. I was consulted by a lady following her husband's death. The title to the matrimonial home had always been in her husband's sole name. In his will the widow was granted liferent, but on the conditions that she met all outlays and it would cease should she start cohabiting with someone.

Had her husband left no will, she would have been entitled to prior and legal rights; on a divorce she would have been entitled to share in the (substantial) value of the matrimonial home. Surely the law requires reform? There are many reasons why the matrimonial home is in the sole name of one party, usually the man. The most common is that the husband is something of a control freak. Perhaps the Society should consider putting pressure on the Scottish Government to remedy this manifest injustice.

Branislav Sudjic, Black & Guild, Kirkcaldy


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