At Paradigm Family Law, our Managing Partner, James Thornton, recently provided expert legal commentary to Sky News in response to a crucial question: “I am buying a house with my soon-to-be husband. My dad is giving us a gift of £80,000 towards a deposit from his pension pot. My partner doesn’t have any deposit. How can I protect my dad’s investment in the case my partner and I break up?”

Three Main Options:

In addressing this common concern, we explore three main options to safeguard your dad’s investment in your house in the unfortunate event of a breakup.

  1. Declaration of Trust: One effective measure is to have a Declaration of Trust drawn up. This legal document precisely outlines the ownership interests in a property. Specifically, it can state that your dad owns a share of the property equivalent to the amount he gifted. Clearly defining financial contributions and documenting the source of funds is crucial, providing instrumental clarity in the event of disputes or legal proceedings.
  2. Prenuptial Agreement: Another option is to establish a prenuptial agreement—a contract signed by couples before marriage. Such an agreement can outline financial arrangements in case of divorce, ensuring your dad’s gift is not considered marital property. While not legally binding in the UK, a fair and reasonable prenuptial agreement is likely to be upheld by a court.
  3. Legal Charge on the Property: For a more robust form of protection, consider giving your dad a legal charge over the property. This security interest in property grants him the right to sell the property if you default on repaying the gift. While a potent safeguard, it is also the most restrictive option.

Important Considerations:

It’s essential to note that the best option depends on your individual circumstances. If you’re confident in your relationship, a Declaration of Trust might suffice. If marriage is on the horizon, a prenuptial agreement offers greater financial protection, albeit at a higher cost. Giving your dad a legal charge provides the strongest protection but comes with restrictions.

Before deciding, discuss these options with both your dad and your partner. Seek professional legal advice, as a solicitor with expertise in property and family law can help navigate the complexities, ensuring your dad’s investment is adequately protected.

Other Top Tips:

  • Regular Review and Update: Periodically review and update all legal documents, including the Declaration of Trust, prenuptial agreement, and legal charge. This ensures these agreements accurately reflect the current situation, accounting for any changes in financial circumstances.
  • Communication and Understanding: Open communication is vital. Ensure both you and your partner, as well as your dad, fully understand the legal arrangements in place. Your partner, particularly, may want to seek independent legal advice to understand their rights and responsibilities.


Taking proactive legal steps can provide peace of mind and protect your dad’s gift in unforeseen circumstances. By carefully documenting financial arrangements and seeking professional legal advice, you create a solid foundation for your property investment while safeguarding your dad’s contribution. Remember, the best option depends on your unique circumstances, so discuss these choices with both your partner and your dad before making a decision.


Paradigm Family Law have a team of experienced and highly recommended divorce lawyers to help guide you through the process of divorce, just waiting to hear from you.

If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank, or Evelyn. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation with a top rated divorce lawyer and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 01904 217225 or email us to [email protected].