Some of the most common scenarios we come across are situations where one person in a marriage has contributed more to the financial side of the relationship, and legally owns the marital home. This could be for a number of reasons – if people get together later in life, it is likely that one of them may already own their own home and their new spouse may move in but not legally take on any element of property ownership or contribute to the mortgage.

Some couples split relationship responsibility right down the middle, with one partner taking on the role as the main money earner and the other taking on more of a nurturing, home maker role – this could involve looking after children, elderly relatives or the day-to-day running of house. In many cases, it is simply a case of one partner being more financially buoyant than the other, and having the means to purchase a home without the need for monetary assistance from their spouse.

If you and your partner are separated and a divorce is in the pipeline, you may already be wondering where you stand if your husband or wife owns the property you both reside in. In a nutshell, you have the right to remain in the house while you are married, as it is your marital home regardless of who contributed more to its purchase or the mortgage payments. Even if the home is only in the name of one person in a relationship, the other has the legal right to remain as long as they are married.

However, these rights immediately disappear once you are legally divorced, as the property is no longer defined as the marital property and the rights afforded by marriage are no longer relevant. Not all divorces are acrimonious, but even if your separation has so far been good natured and on good terms, it is vital at this point that you protect yourself from becoming homeless.

As soon as a marriage breaks down, and final, legal separation is agreed upon, the spouse who does not legally own the property should seek a Notice of Home Rights against the property with the Land Registry. A Notice of Home Rights is part of the Family Law Act 1996, and affords protection to spouses who do not own their matrimonial home.

Once home rights have been registered, the spouse who owns the home is prevented from selling it without the permission of the spouse who has home occupation rights. This legal protection is vital, even if communication between spouses is good and divorce proceedings are moving smoothly – things can quickly change, and if animosity develops, the spouse who owns the home can legally remove the other with no notice.

A Notice of Home Rights not only prevents a spouse selling a property, but also restricts them from transferring it to the ownership of someone else or taking out a new mortgage. In the midst of divorce, a spouse may live with a relative or friend as a temporary stress-relieving measure, but a Notice of Home Rights also prevents the spouse who owns a home from stopping the other from returning to the home from their temporary accommodation.

So, while divorce can be a particularly tough time, Home Rights mean don’t need to worry about being kicked out of your home. Providing you contributed to the running of the house you are legally protected.

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