Who gets the house in a divorce?

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Concerned or even distressed that you may be asked to leave your beloved family home following a divorce?

Regardless of whether you have children, are the primary caregiver, or sole earner, if you want to learn more about who gets the house in a divorce in the UK, you’ve come to the right place.

Here at Freeman Jones Legal, we’re no strangers to helping our clients achieve their preferred divorce settlement – including who receives ownership of the family home.

To help you determine how your real estate property might divided in your divorce settlement, we answer the most common questions about what happens to house in divorce in the UK.

How is property divided in a divorce UK?

When it comes to divorce and who gets the house in the UK, there are typically three options.

You can either simply sell the house and divide the proceeds between the two parties or, one party pays the other for their share of the property.

Alternatively, the sale of the property can be deferred until a trigger event (such as a child turning 17) using a mesher order.

If the couple have not been cohabiting for long, one party may decide to buy the other out.

Similarly, if there are young children in the home, it may be deemed best that they remain at the residence with their primary caregiver until turning 17.

However, each divorce case is unique and should be treated as such.

Who gets the house before the divorce settlement?

Prior to a divorce settlement being agreed by both parties and signed by a judge, they both still have legal ‘home rights’ and cannot legally change the locks on one another.

During the separation stage, they both therefore have legal rights to remain in the family home.

This is applicable even if you didn’t jointly buy the property, are not named on the mortgage, or haven’t contributed any money towards the mortgage payments during the time that you’ve lived with your ex-partner.

If you do share a mortgage, however, you will both still be liable to pay for the property as per your mortgage agreement.

Your ex-partner cannot force you to leave the family home, although they or you may decide to rent separate living accommodation if amicable relations aren’t possible during this potentially stressful and emotional time.

Ultimately, you will have to wait for your divorce settlement to be finalised before any action can be taken regarding home ownership.

Who has to leave the house in a divorce?

Following your divorce settlement, it will be made clear who has to leave the house through mediation, skilled negotiation, dispute resolution, or court action.

Given every divorce case is different, there’s no set rule as to who should leave the family home.

Instead, the fairest route forward will be determined by taking into account a variety of factors. This includes each individual’s income, housing, dependants, and resources as well as any physical or mental disabilities they might have, the contributions they’ve made to the family, their age, and their standard of living prior to the separation.

Once these factors have been assessed by your legal representatives, you can try to come to a mutually-agreeable decision as to whether it’s fairest to sell the property and split the proceeds, have one party buy out the other, or obtain a court order to defer the sale of the property.

If you don’t agree with one another, you can seek court action and ask a judge to determine who gets the house in a divorce.

Based on the relevant evidence provided, the judge will issue a court order stating whether neither party gets the house (it’s sold and the proceeds are split), one party remains until a trigger event occurs, or one party can buy out the other.

Is my wife entitled to half my house if it’s in my name UK?

While your ex-wife, ex-husband, or ex-civil partner may not be entitled to half your house, they are certainly entitled to claim for a share of your assets – including your property.

Even if you are the only legal owner, they still have an automatic legal right over the property. For example, you may buy property for the family and provide an income for the house while your partner looks after the children.

If you want to protect yourself from your spouse claiming a share of your home in a divorce, you will need to consider drafting a prenuptial or premarital or postnuptial agreement.

Commonly referred to as a prenup, these agreements last for the duration of your marriage and often designed to protect your assets in the event of a divorce.

Can my ex-wife claim my house after divorce UK?

It’s important to bear in mind that your ex-wife, ex-husband, or ex-civil partner can still make a claim against your finances or assets up until they either re-marry or a financial consent order has been put in place.

It’s therefore vital that you obtain this court order during the divorce process if you want to build up your personal assets while ensuring your ex-partner has no legal avenue to make a claim against them.

Contact our experienced divorce solicitors

Our expert divorce solicitors in Chester have years of invaluable experience professionally supporting clients with in-depth legal guidance throughout the divorce process.

A divorce is often a stressful and emotional time for a family, so knowing you have a supportive legal team on hand is essential to making this process as pain-free as possible.

At Freeman Jones Legal, we have substantial experience drafting child custody arrangements, financial divorce settlements, and cohabitation disputes.

Regardless of whether you required dispute resolution, mediation, skilled negotiation, or even court action, we can help you to fairly divide your assets – including the family home.

With offices in Wrexham, Liverpool, Warrington, and even North Wales, we’re one of the leading legal firms in Chester. To speak to a member of our team, please feel free to give us a call on 01244 506 444. We also welcome enquiries sent via email or using our online contact form.

From here, we’ll be in touch shortly to schedule your free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation.

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Author Colin Freeman View Profile
Colin qualified as a solicitor in 1998. He specialises predominantly in family law, litigation / dispute resolution, wills, probate and settlement agreements and has notable cases reported in the Court of Appeal and High Court.
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