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What Are My Rights If I Leave the Marital Home?

Here’s everything you need to know about your rights if you leave the marital home.

Separation or divorce can be an emotionally distressing time, which is often made worse by various myths surrounding important issues such as the marital home. When they separate from their spouse, many people need to consider the arrangements that need to be made in relation to the marital home they share.

marital home legal advice divorce


Should I leave the marital home after separation or divorce?

One of the greatest myths related to separation or divorce is that you won’t have the right to live in your marital home anymore.

Many people going through a separation opt to move out of the house because they want to achieve physical separation from their partner and have some space to think about their next steps.

However, they often call their solicitors to ask whether it’s OK to move out of the marital house because they believe they will lose the right to property if they decide to leave. Should you wish to discuss your options, we offer free no obligation Zoom or telephone consultation. Contact us today by email or call 0333 311 0925.

It’s important to remember that the Family Law Act 1996 grants you the right to remain and live in your marital home unless a court order excludes it. In the event of a divorce or separation, both parties are entitled to a share of the property.

Most couples acquire multiple joint assets over the course of their marriage, and typically this includes the marital home. In the case of high net worth individuals, the joint assets may also include pension contributions and joint accounts.

When it comes to property, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not necessary for both parties to legally own the marital home in order to have legal rights to the property after separation. For example, if the mortgage is entirely in your spouse’s name but you contribute to the bills, you still have rights to your share of the property.


Access to the marital home during separation

Even if one of the parties has moved out, both are legally entitled to possession of the marital home, and both have the right to live there. This means that even if one of the parties has moved out, they can still return at any point and live in the marital home.

Many people who are going through separation are asking whether their spouse has the right to change the locks on the marital home. The answer is no, they can’t change the locks legally without a court order.

If you are legally married or you own part of the house, you have a legal right to enter the marital home. Your spouse is only entitled to change the locks after a separation if they own the property in their sole name.


Rights to the family home when children are involved

Divorce law prioritises the welfare of children above anything else, which means that the provision of a secure home for them comes first. Because the family court also looks to minimise disruption to the children’s lives as much as possible, the person responsible for their day-to-day care will often be entitled to continue to live in the family home.

As such, property rights when children are involved are linked to child custody. This doesn’t mean that the person who doesn’t live in the house anymore is exempt from paying the mortgage or that they will be written off the Title Deeds automatically.

Various agreements can be made with regards to the equity tied up in the property, and they can be formalised in a Property Order by the court.


Rights to property if you aren’t married

If you and your partner aren’t married, the starting point is to look at how the property is owned. If you own it as joint tenants, then you’re considered joint and equal owners, under the presumption that you each own the property equally.

However, if you own the property as tenants in common, then each of you owns shares in the property. You can own the shares equally (50/50) or not (e.g., 60/40). A document called a Declaration of Trust outlines the shares each party owns in case you own non-equal shares.

If you and your partner aren’t married by bought your house together, you’ll both be entitled to your share. But if the house is in your partner’s name only, you don’t automatically have a right to share in the sale proceeds, and you may need to ask the court to recognise your part if you contributed to the mortgage payments or purchase price.

If you’re going through a separation or divorce and are not sure what your rights are to the matrimonial home, it’s essential to seek professional legal advice to protect your interests.

If you would like to discuss your marital home options or wish have a free no obligation consultation email or call us to find out how can we help you on all complex legal issues covering the marital home after separation or divorce.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

What adultery means for your divorce

What are my rights to property after separation?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?

What is a managed divorce?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you?

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on marital home options

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0333 311 0925 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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13th May 2021

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