Family law

Legal rights to your home in divorce

Even if your spouse owned your home before you met, 'home rights' mean that they cannot make you leave while you are still married, and that you may also be able to remain there after divorce. Our family lawyers explain your home rights in this brief guide.

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Do I have any rights to stay in my home in a divorce?

Yes, if you are married, then you have a legal right to live in your family home, even if it is registered to your spouse and they want you to leave. In law, this is known as having matrimonial home rights. In fact, if you have nowhere else to go, you may even have the right to remain in the matrimonial home after your divorce is finalised – in very limited circumstances.

This won't always be the case, as the financial settlement on divorce will ideally make this unnecessary; but the legal principle of home rights should mean that you will not be made homeless by the end of your marriage or civil partnership.

If you are separating from your spouse and they want you to leave the matrimonial home on the grounds that they own it, you should speak to one of our expert family lawyers right away. Call us now on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we will call you.

Do I have to register my home rights in a divorce?

In most cases where home rights become an issue, the property will be owned – either outright or with a mortgage – by your spouse. This means that you are highly unlikely to be named on any of the legal documents for your home.

As long as your spouse is the sole owner of the property, we can help you to register your home rights at the Land Registry. Not only will this mean that you have established your right to stay in the matrimonial home, but also that the property cannot be sold or even remortgaged without your consent.

Registering your home rights can be relatively straightforward when the property is registered with the Land Registry, but may be more complex if it is owned outright and the title deeds are held elsewhere, such as in the care of a solicitor.

Will my spouse know that I have registered home rights?

The Land Registry office is legally obliged to notify the owner of any property when someone registers home rights against it. If the property is Unregistered however, your spouse wouldn't be notified of your home rights registration by the Land Charges Department; but neither would they withhold this information if your spouse carried out a search at the Land Charges Department.

However, if you would be in fear of abuse or domestic violence from your spouse in the event that you registered your home rights, we might be able to help you seek an injunction to keep them away from you and the matrimonial home at the same time as registering your home rights.

What would stop me from having home rights in a divorce?

The purpose of having matrimonial home rights is to prevent one spouse from evicting the other spouse from the property until financial matters have been resolved in the divorce. However, if there are other registered owners of the property, this may not be possible.

If your spouse owns the property jointly with someone else, it may not be possible to register home rights. If there is any doubt about this, we can help you to check on who owns the property by contacting the Land Registry.

Naturally, if you are in a situation where you feel that you have to register your home rights, you may need advice on other matters such as divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, or perhaps even childcare arrangements and divorce financial settlements.

Whatever your situation, our experienced family solicitors are here to listen and help. Call us now on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we will call you.

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