Family Law How to Guides...

Matrimonial home rights: Your guide

Reading time: 2 mins

Carrie Tennick, April 23, 2020

When you live in a property that your spouse or civil partner owns but you don’t, it can be worrying if you split up.

They could sell the home, remortgage or transfer ownership to someone else without your knowledge, meaning that you have to move out – potentially with nowhere to go.

But there’s a way of ensuring you have a right to stay in the home.

Matrimonial home rights

When you get married or enter into a civil partnership, you and your partner both become automatically entitled to matrimonial home rights. This means that you are both legally entitled to stay in the home, no matter who the home belongs to.

This right is only valid on the home you both live in – the family home – rather than any investment or commercial properties. It’s also valid on rented accommodation, not just owned properties.

According to the government, you can register your matrimonial home rights with HM Land Registry. This can help stop your partner from selling your home. Under the Family Law Act 1966, this offers you some protection.

It means that you can’t be evicted without a court order if you live in the home. If you aren’t occupying it, registering your matrimonial home rights means that you have a right to enter the property and live there.

Your partner will then not be legally allowed to sell or mortgage the home without your written permission.

The legalities

You have to register your home rights with the Land Registry for you to receive any legal protection. So make sure that this is one of the first things you do when you think your marriage or civil partnership may be ending.

Once you register with the Land Registry, your partner’s mortgage lender will usually be notified.

You’ll be allowed to stay in your home until your divorce or civil partnership dissolution is finalised and you have agreed a court settlement or if your partner passes away. But if a court has issued a continuation order, you can stay in your home for longer. This could be down to an ongoing dispute with your partner about who owns what, for example.

There are some instances where you wouldn’t be able to register your matrimonial home rights, though. This would be when your partner owns your home with someone else. However, this isn’t the case and you may apply for your rights if your partner would be the only one to get the money if the home was sold. This is known as being the sole beneficial owner.

If your partner has tried to make you move out or stop you moving back into your home after being temporarily out of it, you could take legal action against them.

To find out how First4Lawyers could help you do so, just give us a call, request a call back or make an enquiry online. Our specialist family law solicitors will help you work out the best course of action for you during this difficult time.

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