What happens to the family home when a couple separates?

Once a couple have made the decision to separate, either party may decide they can no longer live in the shared family home. However, many people worry that moving out will compromise their rights over the property. Here we look at the legal elements to consider when making the difficult decision to move out of the family home.

The family home is often a couple’s major financial asset and before taking the step to move out, it is always advisable to seek specialist advice from a family lawyer, to understand the consequences for your specific situation. It is also important to appreciate the impact this may have on any children you share. For the person moving out, the time spent and the nature of their relationship with their children will obviously have to change.


If my partner owns the property, can they force me to leave?

If you are married or in a civil partnership, the other party cannot force you to leave the family home, as marriage provides the legal protection to prevent this, even if the house is solely owned by your partner.

What’s more, the legal protection of marriage means that regardless of who owns the property, it is considered a ‘matrimonial asset’ and both parties have matrimonial ‘home rights,’ meaning both have the right to live in the house. These ‘home rights’ must be registered with HM Land Registry to prevent the partner who owns the property being able to sell or devalue the home without the other person knowing.

If you were cohabiting with a partner who solely owned the property, you have no rights. However, if you have children together you may be able to issue court proceedings to enable you and the children to remain in the property until they reach the age of 18 years or finish in full-time education. After such a time, the property reverts back to the original owner.


My partner can be abusive – what should I do if I feel unsafe in the property?

If you feel emotionally and physically threatened by your partner you must contact the Police, as well as seeking legal advice from a family lawyer. In these circumstances, it is possible to obtain a Non-Molestation Order and/or an Occupation Order to stipulate which one of you lives in the house, how the house is occupied and how you communicate with each other.


Can we both continue to live in the house?

In an ideal world, relations between you both will be cordial enough to allow you to both continue to live in the house, while you decide how to proceed with separation and divorce. However, any mortgage on the property still needs to be paid and in instances where one person cannot afford to move out, this situation must be made to work. If it is possible to do this, it can also be easier on your children who have a chance to process the split while you both sort out your financial and property issues.



If you need advice on separation and divorce, we offer an initial no obligation consultation of up to one hour for a fixed rate of £100 (incl. VAT). This will provide you with legal advice specific to your individual circumstances. To book an appointment please call us on 01444 472700, email us at info@tisshawssolicitors.co.uk or complete the form below.

Meet The Team

See All

Responsive site designed and developed by