chapter
18 Pages

WEAVING ALONG

BORDERS: PUBLIC PRIVATE, WOMEN BANKS
WithandHilary

Feminist interest in the legal and practical ramifications of the nook by the hearth, in legal terms the 'family home', as security for debt, particularly business debt, is considerable.I A typical story in this area of law goes like this: a man and a woman agree to live together, with or without the ties of marriage, and a family home is bought. His business gets into difficulties and he decides to take out a loan to keep him going over a hard time. Sometimes, however, the loan is less innocent: he may say it is for business purposes, but it may be to pay gambling debts, or for a holiday, and/or it might be for a sum much greater than he has told his domestic partner. The bank manager,3 from experience, refuses to lend to him unless the woman with whom he shares the house agrees to sign the mortgage deed or to act as surety for his loan. This assumption of liability for a partner's debts has become widely known as 'emotionally' or 'sexually' transmitted debt.f Such debt is, of course, not limited to wives or female cohabitees, and the cases below illustrate this. However, we are choosing to focus on the positions of women who become sureties for a man's debt, since such cases are in the majority.