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Bizarre legal battle launched over estranged wife's share of house

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A woman who lived with her partner for nearly two decades has launched a legal battle after her boyfriend’s share of their joint-owned home passed to his estranged wife following his death.

Grandmother Joy Williams, 69, lived with Norman Martin for 18 years before he died of a heart attack back in 2012.

Following his death, Mr Martin’s share of the couple’s cohabited home was granted to estranged wife, Maureen Martin – whom the former dentist remained married to, despite having seldom spoken to or seen her since their separation.

Mrs Martin and Ms Williams attended the start of proceedings at Central London County Court earlier this week, where a judge is being asked to make a ruling on the dispute.

The Court heard that Mr Martin and his partner joint-owned the three bedroom home in Dorset as “tenants in common” – a legal anomaly which meant that Mr Martin’s share of the house was not automatically transferred to his partner following their cohabitation.

Couples who cohabit do not have the same rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership.

Ms Williams now risks potentially “losing her home”, unless judges are willing to award Mr Martin’s share to Ms Williams “so that she has some security for the future”.

The case is expected to conclude tomorrow.