Sister Wives star Kody Brown may not get any money from the sale of his former wife Christine’s house in their split, according to a family lawyer.
Christine Brown, 51, announced in November 2021 that she was separating from husband Kody after over 25 years of “spiritual marriage.”
Kody, 53, has a plural marriage with his legal wife Robyn Brown, 43, and two other spiritual wives: Janelle Brown, 53, and Meri, 51, who he is currently in a platonic relationship with.
Christine and Kody’s split has been a major storyline in Sister Wives season 17. Christine revealed to Kody in the season premiere in September that she is moving back to Utah from Flagstaff, Arizona, where the family currently resides.
In a teaser for the next episode, the pair can be seen finally starting to tackle the logistics of their breakup, including the sale of Christine’s house. Things look set to get tense between the pair, who share children Aspyn, Mykelti, Paedon, Gwendlyn, Ysabel and Truely, when the topic of the property comes up.
In the footage, Kody tells the cameras: “With Christine wanting to move there is this big question of, ‘What do we do with the house?'”
Kody and Christine are then seen in deep discussion as he tells his estranged wife: “We have to have an agreement in place.”
Christine then says in a confessional interview: “If I am going to sell my house, I won’t be giving him any of the money.”
Matthew Taylor, a partner at Stowe Family Law, said that Kody and Christine’s spiritual marriage would “not be legally recognized” in the United Kingdom, where his firm is based.
Kody and Christine are based in the United States, where, similar to the U.K., there is minimal legal protection for unmarried, cohabiting couples. When they separate, cohabiting couples retain their individual assets, irrespective of the financial situation of either party.
Speaking about how the splitting of assets in spiritual marriages works in the U.K, Taylor told Newsweek: “In the absence of a legal marriage or civil partnership, there is no automatic entitlement to any financial claims as a result of the relationship. Instead, the parties would have the same minimal legal protection as a cohabiting couple.”
Taylor added that the only financial claims from the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship relate to any children from the relationship, and property interests.
“In the case of any property, any rights will depend on ownership. Unlike following a divorce, the family home cannot be divided based on fairness or by a marital entitlement, but instead, property disputes will depend on complex trust and land law,” he said.
Taylor said that if one party owns the property, the other party can “potentially” make a claim against it, but there has to have been some sort of agreement, whether express or implied, that the non-owning party would receive a share of that property.
He explained: “These are complex claims that are heavily fact-specific and depend on both parties’ interpretation of what their intention was regarding ownership of the property. When assessing these claims, the court will examine the parties’ entire course of dealing with the property—including who has paid the mortgage, who has funded renovations, etc.”
Revealing how couples that choose to have a spiritual marriage can protect themselves, Taylor recommended using a cohabitation agreement that can “detail how property, assets and capital are to be shared and where any children may live in the event the relationship breaks down.”
“For any property, a declaration of trust can be used to confirm the proportions of ownership between the couple and how the equity would be split,” he said. “It is also highly recommended to make a valid Will, as unmarried cohabitees do not inherit under the rules of intestacy under English law.”
While Sister Wives fans will need to wait and see what happens on the show with Christine’s house, we do know that she has already sold the land on Coyote Pass, the land that the Brown family bought in Fort Valley, Arizona, and had been planning to all move to.
Christine sold the land to Kody and Robyn in August, according to Us Weekly. The publication obtained property records that show the land was sold for $10, and that the transaction was technically classified as a deed of gift.
Sister Wives airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on TLC.