During a divorce, one of the key concerns people have is whether an ex-partner can force the other to sell a home. The idea of being forced out of a house you’ve made your own, and had happy times in is incredibly upsetting for most people.

As with many things related to divorce, how much power your spouse has over what happens to the marital home depends on the intricacies of your relationship and whether you own the house jointly. Some homes will have both partners on the deeds, but in some cases the ownership of the home will lie with one partner, impacting the rights of the other once the relationship comes to a legal end.

If both your name and your spouse’s name are on the home ownership papers, your partner does not have any legal right to force you to sell the family home. However if your spouse can prove that their money is tied up in property and they need to sell it to open a flow of cash to live, this could change.

If you are residing in the house and there are children present, your spouse will have to demonstrate a very good reason for them needing to sell the home. Specific rules around this depend on the age of your children – if any of your children are under the age of 18, a spouse is prevented from selling the house in some cases.

In some marriages, the family home is owned by one partner – everything is in their name. However, while the Land Registry may state that one person is the sole owner of the property, being married creates certain obligations between two people. Even if a property is owned by one person, being married means their spouse has the legal right to remain in the property while they are legally married. Once a divorce has been finalised, however, this right is invalid (find out more about how your home is divided after divorce here).

To protect yourself against your ex deciding to sell your home, you should seek a Notice of Home Rights against the property. This prevents a spouse selling a property while the marriage is still in place, regardless of whether or not both partners own equal parts of the home or one has complete ownership. Remember that if your spouse owns your home this protection is only afforded to you while you are still legally married – as soon as your divorce is final, the protection no longer applies.

Once a divorce has been finalised, there are a variety of options. One spouse could buy out another, and keep the house, or the property could be sold and any proceeds from it divided between the pair.

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