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Matrimonial Home: What Are My Rights?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 18 Oct 2020 |
 
Marriage Divorce Maintenance Payment

Q.

My wife has told me she wants to separate after 5 years of marriage and move into rented accommodation. When I met her she moved into my house and not long after started maternity leave. Sadly, our son was born with a disability and she therefore hasn't worked since he was born. She receives approx £500 per month carer's allowance plus other usual benefits.

The matrimonial home is in my sole name and I have therefore paid the mortgage, bills and generally maintained the property in good order. I'm devastated she has made this decision but now need to know where I stand legally regarding the house and spousal maintenance.

Obviously, I have no issues whatsoever with regard to maintenance for my child, and am more than happy to pay this and still want to be a part of his life.

Any advice please.

(JB, 13 April 2010)

A.

I am sorry to hear that your wife has decided that your marriage is over. I note what you say about the fact that the property (which lawyers call the FMH or Former Matrimonial Home) is and always has been in your sole name. This does not necessarily mean that your wife would not have a claim to some share in the equity in the property. While it is right that your wife has not contributed financially to the property, she has managed the household for the time that you have been married and, most importantly, brought up your disabled son. The law recognises in marriage and other partnerships that while one person might be the breadwinner the other spouse contributes to the marriage in other non-financial ways.

Maintenance Payments

While you mention that your wife is currently in receipt of carer's allowance and other benefits, you do not mention whether you are paying her anything by way of maintenance at the moment. Although recent events will have been understandably upsetting for you, it does sound as though you and your wife are reasonably amicable about your separation. If you can both agree on terms for Maintenance Payments for your son, and any other financial arrangements, you and your wife may have a relatively straightforward divorce.

The Law

Of course, you should be aware that your wife may go to a solicitor at any time and be advised independently as to her legal options. I do not know your financial circumstances but her lawyer may advise her that she is entitled to a share of the equity in the family home. At this point you may want to consider your own circumstances. Would you be in a position to offer her a lump sum? Have you and your wife talked at all about making provision for your son or any maintenance payments for your wife? Would you be prepared to make any kind of offer?

Your Wife’s Rights to the Property

Similarly, your wife could register an interest in the property at the Land Registry, which would mean you could not take a secured loan against or sell your home without her permission. This is quite commonplace in situations in which the marital home is in one person’s name only.

I’ve tried to outline basic principles here, but my advice to you is to go and see a family solicitor asap. You don’t need to tell your wife that you’re consulting a lawyer, but could just find out what your options are at this stage. Good luck.

Check out our expert's answer to when an ex changes the locks on a jointly owned property.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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We recently all went ( wife & child ) on a family get together at my wife’s parents - I returned alone to redecorate the house as arranged because she hates the smell of paint and little boy needed a break after sitting in the wife’s office 11hrs per day being homeschooled. I completely redecorated the 4 bedroom marital home then proceeded to lay a 50sqm block paved patio ( most of the costs are still sat on my credit card as was promised reimbursement upon her return - I was the stay home parent homemaker with part time job while she earned her 6 figure salary) At the beginning of September I was issued court papers demanding me out the FMH which came as a complete shock ( yes we’d had our ups & downs but after 10yrs together who doesn’t) - shemade some seriously nasty allegations against me and said both her and my son needed to return to the FMH so she could work and he could return to school ( he’s still not been back to the school that was mentioned in court ) After our son was born I was denied the marital bed and after 8 1/2 yrs plus being told I’m repulsive on many occasion I had a brief affair with someone who showed me affection. I was constantly being put down and belittled for my lack of money & the fact I only had a part time job. Her solicitors continue to bombard me with our client this and our client that to the point I’m being harassed 2-3 times daily, then when anything actually needs addressing ie court hearings they only give me 2 days notice but the court requires 4 days to respond - I’m being totally set up in order that she doesn’t have to pay out, I used to work for her company but obviously she recently sacked me leaving me penniless and because I have no money no job and no where to live I’m homeless. I’m currently under PTSD therapy and struggle daily with everything that’s happening. I tried to access Legal advice but apparently I’m not able to get Legal Aid to help me fight my case ( I’d love to know why this isn’t possible) I had a lovely home & family which I absolutely loved but it’s all been taken from me
007 - 18-Oct-20 @ 2:32 PM
So messed up situation Split with my wife for 6 months Went back and “tried” for 3 months as she’s fell pregnant, things still arnt the same We have 2 girls currently 3 and 5 I wish to sign the house over to her and be reasonable for the sake of the kids etc The house is only in my name, I put in majority of the deposit and money to fix it up so around £20,000 Would this make a difference to how much maintanence I’m due her, I make around 40k with doing plenty of overtime
Niloc - 17-Oct-20 @ 4:44 PM
My partner that I've been with for 6 years,in the last 3 years we are no longer together,but he's still in my house,of wish he pays towards the mortgage,bug I pay for all bills and food,he has done work too the house,like a bathroom,I couldn't afford to get it done so he wanted too do it,and he paid for the materials, now he's saying he want half if the house when I sell it, everything is in my name,where do I stand and can he take me too court
Teamlush - 24-Aug-20 @ 1:04 PM
Hi, my wife has ended our marriage, it's not what I wanted. She said she is going to sell the house but she will not do 50/50. She wants more. Can she do this?
Steve - 24-Aug-20 @ 9:40 AM
Hi, need urgent help please! My wife refuses to let me in to my own house days after she asks for a divorce and no one will help! Been married for 10 years and we have 3 young children. The house is jointly owned by my wife & I & both of us are on the mortgage. I’ve mostly been the breadwinner in our marriage, with my wife working part-time inbetween pregnancies. However 2 years ago my wife found full time work & I have been the primary carer / stay-at-home parent since then, while also working part-time on weekends. She lost her job 2 months ago, we started having disagreements, and we both decided that I will stay at my mums (while she kept the kids) for a couple of weeks so we could cLear our heads, and then get back together and work things out. On the day I was supposed to go back home, she emailed me saying she wants a divorce and wants no contact with me. A few days later I tried to go home, but the door was locked, she refused me entry and called the Police. Police said I can’t go in if she doesn’t want me there, and that if I try again at a later date I may be arrested. Now she’s texted saying she wants the house in the divorce, I’ll never be let back in, and police are on her side. There’s never been any history of violence or abuse from me in our marriage. How can I get into my house? Someone please help!
BAMoF - 4-May-20 @ 9:52 AM
Hi, need urgent help please! My wife refuses to let me in to my own house days after she asks for a divorce and no one will help! Been married for 10 years and we have 3 young children. The house is jointly owned by my wife & I & both of us are on the mortgage. I’ve mostly been the breadwinner in our marriage, with my wife working part-time inbetween pregnancies. However 2 years ago my wife found full time work & I have been the primary carer / stay-at-home parent since then, while also working part-time on weekends. She lost her job 2 months ago, we started having disagreements, and we both decided that I will stay at my mums (while she kept the kids) for a couple of weeks so we could cLear our heads, and then get back together and work things out. On the day I was supposed to go back home, she emailed me saying she wants a divorce and wants no contact with me. A few days later I tried to go home, but the door was locked, she refused me entry and called the Police. Police said I can’t go in if she doesn’t want me there, and that if I try again at a later date I may be arrested. Now she’s texted saying she wants the house in the divorce, I’ll never be let back in, and police are on her side. There’s never been any history of violence or abuse from me in our marriage. How can I get into my house? Someone please help!
BAMoF - 4-May-20 @ 9:51 AM
Hi, need urgent help please! My wife refuses to let me in to my own house days after she asks for a divorce and no one will help! Been married for 10 years and we have 3 young children. The house is jointly owned by my wife & I & both of us are on the mortgage. I’ve mostly been the breadwinner in our marriage, with my wife working part-time inbetween pregnancies. However 2 years ago my wife found full time work & I have been the primary carer / stay-at-home parent since then, while also working part-time on weekends. She lost her job 2 months ago, we started having disagreements, and we both decided that I will stay at my mums (while she kept the kids) for a couple of weeks so we could cLear our heads, and then get back together and work things out. On the day I was supposed to go back home, she emailed me saying she wants a divorce and wants no contact with me. A few days later I tried to go home, but the door was locked, she refused me entry and called the Police. Police said I can’t go in if she doesn’t want me there, and that if I try again at a later date I may be arrested. Now she’s texted saying she wants the house in the divorce, I’ll never be let back in, and police are on her side. There’s never been any history of violence or abuse from me in our marriage. How can I get into my house? Someone please help!
BAMoF - 4-May-20 @ 3:00 AM
Hi, need urgent help please! My wife refuses to let me in to my own house days after she asks for a divorce and no one will help! Been married for 10 years and we have 3 young children. The house is jointly owned by my wife & I & both of us are on the mortgage. I’ve mostly been the breadwinner in our marriage, with my wife working part-time inbetween pregnancies. However 2 years ago my wife found full time work & I have been the primary carer / stay-at-home parent since then, while also working part-time on weekends. She lost her job 2 months ago, we started having disagreements, and we both decided that I will stay at my mums (while she kept the kids) for a couple of weeks so we could cLear our heads, and then get back together and work things out. On the day I was supposed to go back home, she emailed me saying she wants a divorce and wants no contact with me. A few days later I tried to go home, but the door was locked, she refused me entry and called the Police. Police said I can’t go in if she doesn’t want me there, and that if I try again at a later date I may be arrested. Now she’s texted saying she wants the house in the divorce, I’ll never be let back in, and police are on her side. There’s never been any history of violence or abuse from me in our marriage. How can I get into my house? Someone please help!
BAMoF - 4-May-20 @ 1:33 AM
My boyfriend of 9 months (after him and his wife separated) lives in the family home. His wife moved out 5 months ago and is currently renting and stoped paying the mortgage on the family home. he will be buying her out of the family home in the next 4 months when he has the funds. She is now staying that she is struggling to pay her rent and the house is too small and she wants to move back in. Can he stop her doing this?
Lucy - 18-Mar-20 @ 9:06 AM
We are divorcing after 25 years,we both live in the same house but neither can afford to pay the other off My wife is getting the house valued but my two grown up children who still live with us say the valuers cannot go into there bedrooms as they are private Do the children have any rights to stop them entering
Grandad - 11-Mar-20 @ 5:39 PM
My wife and I are getting divorced after 25 years but we both live in the marital home with both our grown up children Neither can afford to pay the other off so my wife wants to get the house valued, our children are 25 & 23 years old but only one working at the moment They don’t want the valuers to go in to there bedrooms but she says they can do they have a right to stop them entering there rooms
Grandad - 11-Mar-20 @ 5:17 PM
I have been married to my husband for 7 years.I have been having a lot of problems with my 17 year old disrespectful stepson.Recently he went off on me and told me to move out as it is his house.I live in my husbands marital home.What rights do I have in the house.I have contributed financially for the last 10 years towards the mortgage.
Elsie - 13-Jan-20 @ 7:08 PM
Hi I need advice for my sister. her husband has said he is leaving her after 20 years of marraige, she didn't want this but he is determined although now he is going to Australia for 23 weeks and says he is coming back to continue living in their house. My sister has been practically living in her bedroom for 4-6 months now and he in the living room. He has a very rich family who are paying for his australia holiday and they also have a spare house for him in isle of man. He said he wants to go live in the isle of man as his dad has a business there for him and a house. My sisters husbadnd has a food business here and is apparently giving the business away for free soon ??? He won't leave because he wants my sister to accepta a payout stettlememnt for the house. They have a son too who lives at the house he is 21. My sister has been on anti depressants for 20 years and suffers with anxiety and her husband knows this and he seems to thrive of her anxiety and lack of self esteem. She can't carry on like this but she wants to stay in her home with her son. he has ample opportunity to move out as he has a very rich family to support him. What can she do. he needs to go to australia and not move back into the house. i don't know how she can cope with much more of the situation. We also lost our mum lately to cancer. Our mu mwas dying slowly for months and her husband never supported her through it and is just interested in money, nothing else. My sister hasn't even had a chance to digest what has happened to our mum or greive properly or even relax. What can she do. Please help. He knows he has some sort of control/power over her and he is using this I think he wants her to crack up to be honest. Please help.
CatKin76 - 3-Dec-19 @ 7:40 PM
I have been married to my husband for 11 months and in this time found out that he continuously goes on porn sites while I'm at work or not in the room he's also messaging women too I was very upset by this but he keeps using reverse psychology on me as he cant see why im so upset about it so starts calling me derogatory names and puts me down making it my fault! I've tried having a civil conversation about it but he just shouts and gets abusive. He's now telling me he wants me out of his home which is a council house and he hadn't put me on the tenancy,can he do this and make me homeless and loose my job at the same time as I'm based in the city where we live, or does he have to help me financially with somewhere to live.
Di - 30-Nov-19 @ 12:51 PM
Been together with my wife for 5 year she brought 3 children not mine but to other dads I have my Owen house and work full. Time she does not work claims tax credits I pay all bills what rights do I have for her in my houseam I able to just simply leave
Bond - 18-Nov-19 @ 2:17 PM
My wife of 10 years has told me a week ago we are over and I should start looking for somewhere else to live as soon as (with her help) I can afford to as she believes she can afford the mortgage on our house with my 2 children we have had the house together for 10 years but it has negative equity in it with my life being turned upside down would love some help and advice
Ashman2726 - 24-Oct-19 @ 11:51 AM
I have ended a 15 year marriage. I have no biological children but have raised 4 step-children financially and emotionally. The children have a bio-father who is involved in there life, pays for them to some extent and they stay at his house too, which houses them. Two children remain at home with their mother (my ex) and are aged 18 and 21 years. My ex is 57 years and I am 37 years. My ex has stated that the divide of our estate has to provide a 3 bedroom home for her and her two adult children (they both work). Q: Am I liable to provide my adult step-children with a home? Q: Am i expected to have less becaise I am younger with more years of earning potential. Q: Could the two adult (children) live with their bio-father as he has room. I feel I am being penalised for two adult stwp-children to be 'housed'
Sam - 27-Sep-19 @ 12:16 PM
I have lived and got married to a man for four going on five years the properties he has got there are two and not alot of equity in either of them .I worked part time shortly after moving in in feb 2015 in june 2015I settled in two my job after getting married on may 23rd-2015 .before moving infeb 2015 we had a year relationship which was wonderfuluntil the december when he hit me .I thought it eas my fault and the travelling he did to work so I geve up my rented house that I had bought my daughter up in and one that I had for life to move in and marry this man thing's didn't change he has never hit me again but has come close and is very verbally aggressive. I have always cleaned cooke done the shopping including was of his 37year old sons cloths sheets etc as well as a flexi part time job .I want to end this and go back to where I am from as I feel that would be far enough away from him I also paid for four and five days holidays we had because the house are in his name what if anything would I be entitled too I also left a full time job with a pension that had only just started to move here.is there anything that I am entitled too ?
Pam - 23-Sep-19 @ 6:31 AM
Got Married 3 years bought a house 6 months later but was put in my wifes name due to my bad credit rating split up nine months later. But was still paying half the mortgage for months. Also my parents took out a £10,000 loan to do improvements to the house which im still owe £6000 to and i am soley paying it. She has put the house up for sale yesterday told me nothing about it we have been civil and now not answering her phone to discuss this. We have two kids which i pay maintainence for. We split due to her messing about and i walked out. Dont know where i stand with the equity in the house if anyone could give me some advice??
Paul - 21-Sep-19 @ 1:13 AM
My husband became addicted to prescription pain killers 10 years ago leaving me to carry sneering including raising and supporting our 4 children I hag worked 3 jobs to pay for emerging he hasn't contributed to anything in fact he doesn't even have a current account His behaviour is often irrational but mainly he sleeps during the day and is awake during the night I can't go on any more. His father passed away and an inheritance is a due soon which will be around 50k our mortgage is 180k Interest only 3 years left and the house which my son and I have renovated is due to go on the market any day now profit of about 100k I need to how that would be divided understand what will happen after we sell if I ask him to end our marriage
Jo - 19-Sep-19 @ 6:11 AM
Thanks to Erica raven because she is great. she has done so much for me. A few months ago my wife left me for another man. I was so depressed I was even admitted in hospital. Then for some reason I was searching for divorce lawyers and to my surprise I ended up on the Erica website (w w w . ericaraven. webs . com). I started reading her works and testimonies and I was so encouraged to fight for my marriage through his power and work. There were times were I lost hope, thinking of giving up but she reminds me to never lose hope. Isaiah 41:10. Today I can say my marriage has been restored. We happy and playing every day and she is happier than before. if you are having such or any kind of problem, you can also contact Erica magic temple on her email erika_raven_temple @ religious. com
Khafinelson - 9-Sep-19 @ 12:33 PM
Hi I have separated from my wife of 28 years for the past 18 we have lived in a property owned by her parents in that time I have made renovations kept all maitaince and been the main bread winner ,what if any entitlements do I have .when it all was good the mother had it written that the home was to pas to us thanks
Mick - 7-Sep-19 @ 12:07 AM
can a wife get her ex husband barred from her parents property and home grounds
chris - 9-Aug-19 @ 8:12 AM
Hi, I got divorced this year in January 2019 in the Slovakian courts in Slovakia.I agreed to let her have full custody of the kids as she lives in Slovakia and i live in UK.But it was on the basis that i get to stay at her place when i come over and that we will arrange things between us for holidays with the kids.... I only agreed this on the above basis, as if she didn't then i would contest the divorce (which i didn't), because we both agreed.I also was paying her child maintenance at the end of the month as it was easier for me to do it that way.But the judge said that i have until the 10th of every month to make sure that she recieves the money for maintenance.My question to you is, 1:When i went to court to get divorced the only thing i showed the judge was my passport to prove it was me.There was no signing of any agreement or anything like that at all.All i got after a week of being divorced was a a paper from the courts saying she has custody and that i must pay her for my children so much before the 10thof every month.Is that legal as i thought that a legal document especially in this case being over there i should have signed something, but nothing.So not sure if it is right or wrong. 2: Everything has to be on her terms when i see kids or even get to speak to them, which is not what we agreed upon in court otherwise i would have contested it, but nothing was put in writting about it???? 3: Am i in my right to pay her the money on the 10th or just before instead of the last day of the month like i have been, due to her not sticking to any of our verbal agreements. 4:Can i hold back the pay as well until this is solved, or do i have to get hold of the courts in slovakia to put in place that i also want shared custody of my kids even if they live there and i am in the uk.As my kids are British. And also that the courts put in place when i can have the kids, instead of her barking orders and on her terms only. 5: knowing we are leaving the EU, does this still stand about paying the money as it will be harder for me to see my kids as will have to get visa etc..As when i was there the judge did say we are still part of the Eu but it is the Slovakian way which i do believe is wrong as the judge should have been mutual with both parties instead of just one country should have taken both countries into consideration. I have not paid her maintenance for the kids as of yet this month as i am sick and tired of her manipulating me all the time and now i am waiting until the 10th to pay her as per the paper i recieved from the courts that clearly states i have until the 10th to pay her. Please i need help here.... Thanks Shaun
shaun atkins - 1-Aug-19 @ 10:22 PM
I'm a canada woman who wants her husband back home, he treated me badly and now I mis him and want him back after separation. How can I get help on canada forums too get ex back.
eva - 31-Jul-19 @ 2:15 AM
I am divorced after 13 years marriage without any any child.our family home is for sale on base of court order since last year so myex wife is living in family home . now the interest rate for the mortgage will go up and she needs to find another deal and asking me to sign paper for her as still I have interest but myself renting a place and paying high rent . Do I have to help her to get a law interest ?? can I ask her to go out the house rent a place for herself . How on earth the house is in Market for one year with no offer?? if I sign for her that means she will stay forever. I need some advice what is my right??
Paul - 24-Jul-19 @ 5:56 PM
Hi there, I am 63 yrs old my husband is 65 he suffers with mental health problems and is also physically,verbally and emotionally abusive.We own our own home( with mortgage) and every so often he threatens that he will sell our home! Besides the trauma of always being there for him for 44yrs of marriage. Last night he informed me that he had contacted an estate agent to come value our home with a view for a sale. I have worked partime on and off for 35 yrs but mostly being a stay at home mother taking care of our children who are now grown and don’t live with us. I die every time he does this! My three grown up children won’t talk to their father,they are disgusted with what he does to me. Could you tell me if I would be eligible for some kind of remuneration “Spousal something”...sorry i’m not really clued up with the technical terms. I have little savings. I would be grateful if you could give me advise... kind regards, Abbie Pearson.MAT
Abbie Pearson - 23-Jul-19 @ 5:38 AM
I'm married with 2 young children with a morgage under both of our names we have decided to part. But I can not afford to rent and pay towards the morgage and pay child maintance what can i do?
Jo - 19-Jul-19 @ 4:59 PM
Hi, we got married in 2001, and separated in 2011, but we are not divorced yet, we have grown up children who live elsewere, my ex wife still lives in our home, can you tell me if i am entitled to anything regarding the house which is ijoint names,
Nelly - 8-Jul-19 @ 7:24 PM
My husband walked out 4 years ago.During this time he did continue to pay the mortgage and various utility bills.Now he is wanting a "Legal Separation", "Mediation", and then "Divorce". My question is this....Will the 4 years of paid mortgage and bills apply towards"Spousal Maintainance" paid to me?In other words, does the last 4 years that he has paid on mortgage etc. considered "Spousal Maintainance" , and that I will not receive the "Spousal Maintainance" that I would normally receive?
Bug - 29-Jun-19 @ 11:55 AM
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