"*" indicates required fields
According to matrimonial home rights, both individuals in a marriage are entitled to live in the marital home. So what happens when a couple gets divorced? Who gets to live in the matrimonial home they shared, and what are each person’s individual rights?
This article will explain the ins and outs of Matrimonial Home Rights, why they matter, and how to navigate them while splitting up from your spouse.
A Matrimonial home is the residence shared by a married couple, or two people in a civil partnership. Other properties the couple (or one person in the couple) own are not classed as a Matrimonial home.
UK law dictates that both spouses have the right to occupy a Matrimonial home, despite who’s name is on the mortgage or what the split of ownership is, and neither party can be forced to leave the home by the other in the event of a split, divorce, or change in relationship. This is known as Matrimonial Home Rights.
Matrimonial Home Rights often come into play when one half of the married couple owns the property, and tries to ‘evict’ the spouse who doesn’t have any legal stake in the home following a breakdown in their relationship. Anyone who has access to register Matrimonial Home Rights can do so to protect themself in this situation. It’s also worth noting that Matrimonial Home Rights apply to any property in which the couple have a legal right to reside, including rented properties — though you can only register your home rights against one property at a time.
Any individual entering into a marriage or civil partnership automatically becomes entitled to Matrimonial Home Rights, and can register them at any time. It’s often encouraged to register them as soon as any issues within the relationship arise, so any administrative delays can be minimised when a spouse might need protection from forced eviction. Even if there are no issues in the relationship, Matrimonial Home Rights can still be registered as a safety net or preventative measure.
In order to trigger your Matrimonial Home Rights, they have to be officially registered. The spouse wanting to register the rights needs to first find out whether the property is registered in the Land Registry; a public database containing information about all registered property in the UK, including proof of ownership.
Depending on whether the property is registered or unregistered, they’ll need to fill out one of two application forms. If the application is approved, the Matrimonial Home Rights will appear on the Land Registry or Title Deeds (depending on the property’s registration status). If the property is registered, the owner listed on the Land Registry will be informed of the application to register Matrimonial Home Rights. If the property isn’t registered, the owner will not be notified — but can still find out through investigations.
Once the Matrimonial Home Rights are registered, they’ll appear on the property’s legal documents; making them visible to prospective buyers, as well as banks, mortgage lenders, and the Land Registry. This is called a Matrimonial Home Rights Notice, and will remain in place until both parties reach a mutual agreement, or the court grants permission for its removal.
A Matrimonial Home Rights Notice means the spouse who owns the property can’t sell or remortgage without the knowledge — or consent — of the spouse who registered the rights. Prospective buyers are also usually deterred by properties which have a Matrimonial Home Rights Notice.
Failing to register your Matrimonial Home Rights means your spouse or partner could make decisions about the home you share without your consent or knowledge — including selling or remortgaging. In turn, you could be forced to leave the property.
It could also impact your claims for finances on divorce, though you’d need to consult a solicitor about this.
Getting a divorce is a lengthy process, and a couple can’t officially declare themselves divorced (or re-marry) until they have a Decree Absolute: A court’s final order which legally ends a marriage.
So how does a decree absolute impact Matrimonial Home Rights?
Because Matrimonial Home Rights protect spouses, they only apply as long as a couple is legally married. Once a decree absolute is in place, each individual’s access to Matrimonial Home Rights will officially end and the spouse who owns the property can legally sell the house after the divorce. That is to say that the rights can still be registered during the divorce process, and the court will usually set a date for them to end (which coincides with the day the court issues a decree absolute).
In some cases, exceptions to this rule can be made. Following a decree absolute, individuals can still occupy the family home they previously registered Matrimonial Home Rights to, as long as they have permission from the court. This is called a continuation order, and is most common if the financial arrangements are still being made or both former spouses reach a mutual agreement.
If a continuation order is granted, the ex-spouse will be able to renew the registration of Matrimonial Home Rights with the Land Registry.
Registering Matrimonial Home Rights is a fairly straightforward process, which could end up saving you a lot of stress down the line — especially when quickly having to find somewhere else to live, or if children are involved. It might even be the case that you’re happy to leave if your relationship has turned sour, but it’s important to understand that you aren’t legally obligated to — and there’s protection in place should you change your mind.
Organising your assets while splitting from your partner is a stressful ordeal, especially on top of all the emotions of breaking up. If you’ve recently divorced from your partner, and you’re looking to sell your house fast, We Buy Any Home can get you a guaranteed sale on a timeline that works best for you.
Sell your house quickly with WeBuyAnyHome
WeBuyAnyHome are cash house buyers that offer a convenient, quick way to sell your property fast. We purchase your property quickly in any timeframe. No fees, no hassles and no delays.
You can trust us with a smooth and quick sale of your property.
Want to know how it works? Get a free, no obligation cash offer from us now by entering your postcode in the box below.