This section explains the long-term solutions available when one or both partners own the home. The options you have when you're splitting up with a partner will be based on the rights you both have to your home, and other issues such as finances and whether you have children.
Sorting out long-term rights for owner-occupied property is complicated, as everyone's situation is different. You are likely to need the help of a solicitor when making final decisions.
Sole Legal Owner
If you are the sole legal owner then you have the right to stay in the home. However, there are a number of options your spouse or civil partner can take to establish rights to the property. These include establishing a beneficial interest and home rights. Ultimately, the court can decide to transfer the property from the owner to the non-owner.
If you are cohabiting, and are the sole legal owner of the property, you have a right to stay in the home. However, the person you cohabit with does have the right to apply to establish a beneficial interest if they feel they are entitled to a share of the property. If the home is being sold and your partner has applied for their beneficial interest to be recognised, they may be entitled to a share of the money from the sale.
Joint Legal Owner
If you are a joint legal owner then you have the right to stay in your home. The other joint owner has the same rights as you to stay in the home. If you feel you and your partner shouldn't have the same rights to the property, for example, because of the contributions you've made towards the home, you can apply to establish a beneficial interest to try to alter your share of the property. However, if you've been in a long marriage then it will nearly always work out 50:50, so if you can sort things out without going to court, like for instance, using family mediation, it could save you a lot of money.
I am divorcing / dissolving my civil partnership
f you are married or in a civil partnership, a decision on the long-term rights you have to your home can be made as part of divorce/dissolution proceedings. Decisions made at divorce/dissolution proceedings will overrule any previous decisions made about rights to the home.
I am not divorcing / dissolving my civil partnership
If you're not planning to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, you will have fewer legal remedies open to you. This is because the courts have more power under matrimonial and family law (eg if you're divorcing or dissolving your relationship) than they do under property law.
I am not a joint or sole owner
If you feel like you've made contributions towards the home, for example, making payments towards the mortgage, renovation of the home or bills, you can apply to establish a beneficial interest. This has to be done through the courts and will require a solicitor. Having a beneficial interest could allow you to stay in the home, prevent the sale of a home, or receive a share of the financial proceeds if the home is sold.
However, you might decide to sort out any housing issues using family mediation instead, which is less expensive and time-consuming.
Does it make a difference if there are children involved?
Whether you are planning to divorce/dissolve your civil partnership or not, property can be transferred from one spouse or civil partner to the other if this is in the best interests of the children.
National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family
National Family Mediation (NFM) services charge £25-£100 for a MIAM, depending on geographical locality, which may include the fee for the completed FM1 form. Meetings usually last for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This includes the means assessment to check whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid, determining whether your mediation will be free or not. Mediation sessions which follow the initial MIAM are charged at a sliding scale according to income, but start at around £80 per session, and usually last up to 1½ hours.
If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.
All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.