Whether you are going through a divorce or separation, one of the biggest concerns is what will happen to the family home. This is particularly the case if you have children, as remaining in the house they know as their own will make a turbulent timeless unsettling for them. However, there are divorce and separation cases where one party will demand the other sells the family home.
Divorces can be very tricky and the power your ex has over what happens to any assets is dependent upon your relationship and where you owned the house together. If you have children, understandably their best interests will be put before anything else.
Jointly owned home with no children
If you and your ex own a home that is in both of your names, they cannot legally force you to sell the house. All of your monies, such as business interests, savings and capital are regarded as matrimonial assets and will often be split 50:50.
Your ex can try to force you out of the home, but they cannot legally. Until the divorce is finalised, you both have the right to remain in the home. Once you are officially divorced you may decide to sell. Again, this isn’t an obligation. If you want to remain in the home, you may wish to buy your ex out. Usually, spouses trying to force a property sale need to free up the capital so they can find a property of their own. Therefore, this is sometimes an agreeable solution for both parties.
If you cannot afford to buy your ex out and do not have any children, it may be best to sell the property and start afresh. Alternatively, you can attend mediation with your ex to reach a conclusion or allow your solicitors to have agreement discussions on your behalf.
Jointly owned family home with children
If your ex has left the family home and you are residing in it with your children (under the age of 18) most legal bodies would grant that you remain there, as long as you have ample finances, until the children are out of full-time education or over the age of 18.
Most couples with children, albeit separated or divorced, will do what is right for the children and come to a solution with them as the focus. This ideal scenario doesn’t always play out. However, if you can afford the family home, have children 18 or under and your ex can’t afford to house them, you will likely be granted the right to remain.
Home owned in one name
Many ex-spouses who want to sell the family home often think they have the upper hand if the property is in their name alone. While the Land Registry may only see one sole owner of the property on their records, being married creates certain rules between two people.
Until a divorce has been finalised, either party has the right to remain in the home. After this, the right is invalid. However, if there are children under the age of 18 living in the home, their welfare will come in to play.
If you are in a situation where the property is in your ex’s name, rest assured that you cannot be forced out. Everything you share with this person, regardless of when it was purchased or who bought it, will be split 50:50. Circumstances, where this might not be the case, can be due to complications with a divorce, such as one party drawing down on their pension or trying to hide funds.
How to protect your home
As you can see from the choices above, it is not simple when it comes to remaining in the family home following a separation or divorce. Seeking legal advice is the best plan of action and your solicitor will make sure you – and your children if you have them – come out of proceedings in the best possible standing.
However, to help protect yourself against an ex trying to force a sale, you should seek a Notice of Home Right against the property. This will stop your ex selling a property without your say so whilst you are still legally married, regardless of who has ownership.