EXCLUSIVE – ‘It felt like my mother was trying to leave me penniless and homeless’: Woman says her relationship with her mother is left in tatters after four-year £1M legal battle over who owns her £245K dream home on family farm
- Rebecca Carter, 45, lives only 20 yards from her mother Pamela Teasdale, 68
- She gave her permission to convert a barn on estate in Todwick, South Yorkshire
- But after Ms Teasdale split from husband, the family became locked in a dispute
A daughter says her relationship with her mother has been left in tatters after she became locked in a bitter £1million court case over her £245,000 dream home on the family farm.
Rebecca Carter, 45, lives just 20 yards from her mother Pamela Teasdale, 68, who gave her permission to convert a barn on the nearly 400-acre estate in Todwick, South Yorkshire, into a two-bedroom house 14 years ago.
But after former hairdresser Ms Teasdale separated from her husband in 2018, the family became locked in a bitter dispute over the ownership of the house.
Ms Carter felt it was a ‘devastating blow’ when her mother denied ‘out of the blue’ that she owned the home, Cow House, saying it felt like she was not her own ‘flesh and blood’.
And the pharmacologist then spent five years in the courts fighting to retain her property, knowing that if a judge ruled against her, she would be left both penniless and homeless.
The last photo of Rebecca Carter, 45, and her mother Pamela Teasdale, 68, before their relationship broke down in 2018. They are seen at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium
The family went to court over who owns Cow House (pictured) in Todwick, South Yorkshire
A nine-day court hearing followed by a two-day appeal hearing, with all three family members represented by expensive legal teams, led to a total legal bill of £1,048,000.
Ms Carter finally got the news that her mother’s case had been dismissed earlier this month but said their relationship would never recover.
She said: ‘I would have been effectively penniless and homeless – that your mother wants to do that to you is just devastating. Prior to the divorce, me and my mum did everything together.
‘My mum had an interest in horses when she was younger. I have horses, so we’d done everything together. We’d had a very, very close relationship. We live 20 yards from each either.
‘We’d see each other every day, several times a day. So it was extremely shocking, surprising and devastating. It was unbelievable really.
‘My friends all said, ‘It’s as though you’re not her daughter, it’s as though you’re a step daughter or somebody else, not her own flesh and blood’.’
The farmhouse at the centre of the row is seen on the Burne Farm estate in Todwick (circled)
The row began after Pamela Teasdale (left) told husband Daniel (right) she wanted a divorce
Ms Carter, who lives with her daughter and husband Andrew, said she still did not know why her mother had taken legal action, adding that she had seemingly been in ‘denial’.
She said: ‘I can only think that it was so that she would get more money from the divorce proceedings, which are ongoing, because it would mean that there was more cash in the pot.
‘However, now she’s lost and spent a considerable amount on a legal battle. It’s seems crazy. So I’d like to say in the first instance it was money, but it quickly became more personal.
‘Otherwise, why would you spend all that money on something that was not necessarily going to add that much? It was like it was two separate people. She was in complete denial.’
Horse-loving Ms Carter said she had enjoyed an idyllic childhood on Burne Farm in Todwick and loved spending time with her mother and farmer dad.
She got planning permission to convert an ancient barn on the family estate in 2009 and had rebuilt it with her husband brick by brick before they finally moved in 2011.
Rebecca Carter, 45, became locked in a court case over her dream home on the family farm
Rebecca Carter is pictured riding her mother Pamela Teasdale’s horse in happier times
She expected to spend the rest of her life in the open-plan home, which has a contemporary kitchen with oak-clad steel beams, following a formal agreement with her family.
But she said when Ms Teasdale demanded a divorce from her husband Daniel, 73, and began proceedings against him, she suddenly felt her world had come crashing down around her.
She said: ‘We cut every piece of stone ourselves. The building was already here, but when we took the roof off. It was a very old barn. We planned to stay in it forever, a family home down here on the farm with my parents.
‘It was discussed once the mortgage was paid off that my house would be mine. This was something we came to an agreement on as a family before we started the build.
‘I wasn’t aware of any problems until my mum started financial remedy proceedings against my father, after their separation, and obviously she wanted my house valued as part of that.
‘It was me that said, ‘That’s not fair, that’s mine.’ It wasn’t until literally that comment that I realised my mum didn’t view it as my house. And she said, ‘No, it’s built on our land, it’s ours.’
Cow House is pictured prior to its conversion on the nearly 400-acre estate in South Yorkshire
The front of Cow House is seen prior to its conversion, with Daniel Teasdale on the roof
‘Then my mum through her solicitor said ‘If you feel you have a beneficial interest in that property, then you must get your own legal representation.’
Ms Carter said she was forced to give up her job as a pharmacologist during the legal proceedings and said her mother seemed completely in ‘denial’ about what was going on.
She said: ‘She still is living in the property next to me. Relations were very strained and my mum wanted to carry on as though nothing was happening. I didn’t want to see her every day but I was forced to see her out of my kitchen window.’
She added: ‘We still have conversations now, but it’s difficult to say if they’re conversations or arguments. She wanted to carry on our relationship as though this wasn’t happening. It was kind of as though it was two separate people. She was in complete denial.’
Ms Carter said the stakes were very high for her, knowing that she could lose her home and hundreds of thousands of pounds if she lost her case.
And though she had won the legal fight, and been awarded half her costs for the first case and the full amount on appeal, she had still lost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
She said: ‘It’s fair to say I’m hundreds of thousands of pounds down as a result of my mum, even though I’ve won and I’m entitled to stay in my house. There a lot that’s broken that can never be mended and relationships are one of those things.
‘My mum has isolated herself completely. Everything was OK before. I think jealously did play a part, but I didn’t know if it was the main driver.
‘My mum initiated the divorce, yet she then chose to act in a certain way, which isolated her from my sister, my father and myself completely. Everything was extremely happy prior to that. This came completely out of the blue.’
Ms Carter’s solicitor, Elizabeth Saunders of law firm Gardner Leader, said: ‘Divorce is always difficult but this case illustrates the particular problems faced in farming families when relationships break down.
‘The farm is the home, the business and usually involves several generations from the same family. It’s vital to get specialist legal advice as early as possible.’
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