Home > Ask Our Experts > Matrimonial Home: What Are My Rights?

Matrimonial Home: What Are My Rights?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 Feb 2017 |
 
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.

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my walked off our marriage for her new friends and now she wants a divorce after 16yrs we got 3 kids and the people shes with tell how to go about everything how torment me wot can I do to save my marriage and those friends she have
shakes - 17-Feb-17 @ 10:01 AM
My ex wife and I divorced 7 years ago. I left the matrimonial home and agreed to pay maintenance until the child was 18. The 7 years has now passed and the ex wife is refusing to leave the property. She is also not paying the mortgage which is in joint names. She is refusing me access to obtain a valuation of the property so value of assets can be established. What can I do?
RM - 20-Jan-17 @ 5:55 PM
Milly- Your Question:
My husband of 11 years 6 months lives n works back in my Africa, my country. I've never registered him here as my husband so is it going to be hard for him to come n visit me here?

Our Response:
He can apply to visit you via a standard visitors visa, please see link here. I can't predict whether he would be allowed in the country or not - all will depend on whether he fulfils the specified requirements.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jan-17 @ 1:41 PM
My husband of 11 years 6 months lives n works back in my Africa, my country. I've never registered him here as my husband so is it going to be hard for him to come n visit me here?
Milly - 19-Jan-17 @ 8:40 PM
In September 2014 my wife divorced me. The settlement was basically she could have the house and I would not have to pay maintainance and on the understanding she would contunue to provide a roof over our then 17 and 12 year old children. Once the divorce camw through she sold the house and put the proceeds towards a flat which she rented out whilst she lived, illegally in substandard rent free accomodation. Within months if the divorce she kicked my 17 year old out. More recently the local council evicted her and my now 15 year old daughter due to it being an illegal residence. My ex then movee in with her new partner and has kicked my 15 year old out. I recently remarried, i have a stepson aged six and my daughter is now living with us. I would really appreciate some advice regarding my rights, does she have to pay me maintainance and is there anything i can do in terms of the divorce agreement as ut seems wholly unfair!!
Iancs - 23-Dec-16 @ 1:18 PM
okpe - Your Question:
Hi my ex and I married for 10 years and we both have 2 children.First property was in his sole name , property no 2 was both names were we both lived untill he decicded to move out and I ended paying for the mortage ,service charge and repairs for 10 years.3rd property was in his sole name. My ex pays for child maintanance and property no 2 has been sold and money share between us.Am I entitle to his other two properties since both properties are on his sole name?

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice as much depends upon how long you were married for and whether you have children. You may certainly be entitled to a share of his latter property, (if you were still married at the time he bought it and joint funds were used to pay for it). The first property may be considered as a pre-marital asset.
SeparatedDads - 19-Dec-16 @ 12:37 PM
hi my ex and I married for 10 years and we both have 2 children.First property was in his sole name , property no 2 was both names were we both lived untill he decicded tomove out and I ended paying for the mortage ,service charge and repairs for 10 years.3rd property was in his sole name. My ex pays for child maintanance and property no 2 has been sold and money share between us.Am I entitle to his other two properties since both properties are on his sole name?
okpe - 18-Dec-16 @ 11:16 AM
A week aftermy Wife asked for a divorce she made false allegations to the police of domestic violence and I was removed from the marital home and not allowed to contact or talk with her. During the 5 months I was on bail I kept up contact with my children and eventually managed to rent a home for them to stay with me. During all this time I paid the morgage and the bulk of the household bills, slowly tapering them down to the point where I now only pay the morgage. The Police found no wrong doing and no charges were layed, the Social Services also investigated and found my Wife to be somewhat sparing withtthe truth and downright lieing on several occasions Financially I now cannot maintain the morgage on the marital home and the rent and bills on the property I now rent and have the children at 50% of the time. There is no option of moving back into the house after the allegations and the fact she has changed the locks (which I believe to be illegal). Her and her solicitor are fighting a delaying action on the financials as she wants to remain in the house , which, I am not in agreeance to as I need to release equity to buy a property within which I can help raise my children on joint residency. To what level can I reduce my morgage payments? Certainly I am only liable for half the payment but as I do not live there and have been removed forcibly and now have to pay for a second property can I refuse to pay the morgage? I intend to pay child maintenance at the CSMA rate.
Andrew - 19-Nov-16 @ 1:57 PM
A week aftermy Wife asked for a divorce she made false allegations to the police of domestic violence and I was removed from the marital home and not allowed to contact or talk with her. During the 5 months I was on bail I kept up contact with my children and eventually managed to rent a home for them to stay with me. During all this time I paid the morgage and the bulk of the household bills, slowly tapering them down to the point where I now only pay the morgage. The Police found no wrong doing and no charges were layed, the Social Services also investigated and found my Wife to be somewhat sparing withtthe truth and downright lieing on several occasions Financially I now cannot maintain the morgage on the marital home and the rent and bills on the property I now rent and have the children at 50% of the time. There is no option of moving back into the house after the allegations and the fact she has changed the locks (which I believe to be illegal). Her and her solicitor are fighting a delaying action on the financials as she wants to remain in the house , which, I am not in agreeance to as I need to release equity to buy a property within which I can help raise my children on joint residency. To what level can I reduce my morgage payments? Certainly I am only liable for half the payment but as I do not live there and have been removed forcibly and now have to pay for a second property can I refuse to pay the morgage? I intend to pay child maintenance at the CSMA rate.
Andrew - 19-Nov-16 @ 1:51 PM
Does my wife who I've been separated from for 2 years and am yet to divorce from have any rights to a house I'm about to buy with my new partner
Daws - 11-Nov-16 @ 8:59 PM
Vera - Your Question:
Hi my husban of 12 years whom we have separeted for 5 years wants to come back and help me buy our family home since my credit scoring is not good. he says that he is helping me to secure a home for the 3 boys we have together but has no interest in future incase I sell it. he also says he wants to file a divorce against me since he has moved on. I have been paying for my house rent ever since and he contribute 100 pounds every month towards child upbringing not as directed by the courts.how do I make him to write that his intention is just to facilitate the mortage and no furutre claim for rights after divorce and nothing else after as I will be the one to pay the mortage and my names are the only one to be on the title deed.

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice about drawing up an agreement.
SeparatedDads - 10-Nov-16 @ 3:03 PM
Moh - Your Question:
Hi in 2008 me and my ex wife bought a house with tenants living in it with both our names. The purpose was to move into it after we divide it into two flats.her father helped us to buy it by paying the first payment as a gift for his daughter and also because I was working for him at the time ,when we started to pay the mortgage she insisted on paying the mortgage from her bank account and she told me to pay for shopping and bills and we agreed on that.later she decided that she doesn't want to leave her parents house as we were living there with our one year old child and changed her mind about deviding the house so problems started and we decided to divorce so I moved out and that was the cause of me getting into a severe depression for one year. Since then I've been trying to have my life back as she was in control of all paperwork.I have paperwork to say that the house in both our names and I pay her maintenance for my son every month but she keep saying that I have no right over the house because I didn't contribute towards it "according to her" my question is can I claim my share of the the house?? As she has never lived in it since we bought it??

Our Response:
If you purchased the house together and you are married, then you do have rights as the house was not a pre-matrimonial asset i.e owned by your wife prior to the marriage. Regardless of who works, or who stays at home or what money each spouse earns, when you are married, it is all considered as part of the joint marital pot. Had your ex lived in the house, or if she currently lives in it with your child, then the court 'may' rule to let her stay in it, as it will always decide what is in the best interests of your child (which is having a roof over his/her head). Therefore, I suggest you seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 10-Nov-16 @ 1:47 PM
Lj - Your Question:
Recently my parents have split.My brother and I are living with my dad and my mum has gone to live with my grandparents.She is trying to make him sell the house or buy her out. Does she have the right to do this?My brother is 17 and I am 18. We are in full time education. Next year I will be going to uni and my brother will be in an apprenticeship. Because I will be living at home for university, will she be able to make us sell the house then?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Much depends upon how much your mother wishes to pursue the matter and whether she wishes to take it to court, if your father refuses to sell. However, it is unlikely the court would move to force your father to sell whether you are both living with him and are in full-time education (up to A'Level standard). However, once your further education ends, pre-university, the court may request your father sells in order to split the equity between him and your mother.
SeparatedDads - 10-Nov-16 @ 12:57 PM
hi my husban of 12 years whom we have separeted for 5 years wants to come back and help me buy our family home since my credit scoring is not good. he says that he is helping me to secure a home for the 3 boys we have together but has no interest in future incase i sell it. he also says he wants to file a divorce against me since he has moved on . i have been paying for my house rent ever since and he contribute 100 pounds every month towards child upbringing not as directed by the courts. how do i make him to write that his intention is just to facilitate the mortage and no furutre claim for rights after divorce and nothing else after as i will be the one to pay the mortage and my names are the only one to be on the title deed.
Vera - 10-Nov-16 @ 1:41 AM
Hi in 2008 me and my ex wife bought a house with tenants living in it with both our names . The purpose was to move into it after we divide it into two flats .her father helped us to buy it by paying the first payment as a gift for his daughter and also because I was working for him at the time ,when we started to pay the mortgage she insisted on paying the mortgage from her bank account and she told me to pay for shopping and bills and we agreed on that ..later she decided that she doesn't want to leave her parents house as we were living there with our one year old child and changed her mind about deviding the house so problems started and we decided to divorce so I moved out and that was the cause of me getting into a severe depression for one year. Since then I've been trying to have my life back as she was in control of all paperwork .I have paperwork to say that the house in both our names and I pay her maintenance for my son every month but she keep saying that I have no right over the house because I didn't contribute towards it "according to her" my question is can I claim my share of the the house?? As she has never lived in it since we bought it??
Moh - 9-Nov-16 @ 7:49 PM
Recently my parents have split. My brother and I are living with my dad and my mum has gone to live with my grandparents. She is trying to make him sell the house or buy her out. Does she have the right to do this? My brother is 17 and I am 18. We are in full time education. Next year I will be going to uni and my brother will be in an apprenticeship. Because I will be living at home for university, will she be able to make us sell the house then?
Lj - 9-Nov-16 @ 7:35 PM
NG - Your Question:
My wife and I are separated and currently starting divorce proceedings. I left the marital home and I currently make a monthly payment agreed by my wife to pay towards the mortgage and living costs as she herself is also in full time employment.Recently my situation has changed and I have asked my wife if I can temporarily stay in the spare fourth bedroom until my situation changes, the situation being a financial one.She says I have no rights to this as I lost my rights the day I moved out - is this right and could I have any other information that would assist me.

Our Response:
It is a tricky question. In theory, where a house is owned or rented in both names there is an equal right in law that both individuals are entitled to live in the home. However, if you have moved out your ex has a right to refuse to allow you back into the home to live and can change the locks, please see link here. In order to officially be allowed to live in the house, you would have to apply for a court order. However, if your wife opposes this for various reasons, then the court would have to consider both cases and if there are children involved, what the court thinks is in their best interests. You may wish to seek legal advice here. However, please be aware it might be a long expensive haul if you wish to apply through the courts. Please also see CAB link here .
SeparatedDads - 8-Nov-16 @ 10:48 AM
My wife and I are separated and currently starting divorce proceedings.I left the marital home and I currently make a monthly payment agreed by my wife to pay towards the mortgage and living costs as she herself is also in full time employment. Recently my situation has changed and I have asked my wife if I can temporarily stay in the spare fourth bedroom until my situation changes, the situation being a financial one. She says I have no rights to this as I lost my rights the day I moved out - is this right and could I have any other information that would assist me.
NG - 7-Nov-16 @ 10:58 AM
I have just bought a house in my sole name mortgage My girlfriend of 8 years has been refused the joint mortgage and the bank refused to enter her on a deed of trust, I had to write a letter saying I would fund the mortgage myself. My girlfriend is devastated and refuses to move into the house and pay her half (which we had planned) because she is not protected financially. If we marry would this give her some protection?
JG - 1-Nov-16 @ 6:59 PM
Ben- Your Question:
Me and my girlfriend are thinking of spilting up. The mortgage is all in my name and has paided a thing towards anything. We have a child together. What rights do I have to stay at the house or get her to leave? Can I sell the house if it comes to it? Does she get anything from the sale if I sell as nothing is in her name?

Our Response:
It is always a tricky issue to advise on when you have children between you, please see further information at CAB link; ending a relationship when you're living together, here.
SeparatedDads - 26-Sep-16 @ 11:04 AM
Me and my girlfriend are thinking of spilting up. The mortgage is all in my name and has paided a thing towards anything.We have a child together.What rights do i have to stay at the house or get her to leave?Can i sell the house if it comes to it? Does she get anything from the sale if i sell as nothing is in her name?
Ben - 25-Sep-16 @ 10:42 AM
I have been married for 15 years, have two children, and my wife has told me the marriage is over. We have a joint mortgage although I pay 100% of it and 90% of all bills and everything for the house I terms of maintenance. Whilst thing still have been amicable to date she now wants to get a mortgage for a place of her own, so I need to get her off the mortgage and I believe she is probably entitled to a share of the equity, can I be forced to sell the house? As I may be able to give her a financial settlement by other means.
DP42 - 17-Sep-16 @ 10:41 AM
Cliff - Your Question:
Me and my girlfriend (unmarried) have separated after being together for 9 years. We have 2 children. I realize I will have to pay child support as I am already in an order for my daughter thru my previous marriage. We purchased a house however the home is in her name only as my credit was a bit weaker at the time. Do I have any rights to it? And what about the belongings we acquired during our time together: furniture, electronics, tools, things of that nature. So far the only things I have received are my clothes. What rights do I have, if any? And how would I go about excercising those rights??

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this if you cannot negotiate between yourselves. If the house is in her name, then you would have to prove you have contributed to the property financially in order to declare an interest. The fact you have children will also be factored in and there is little likelihood your ex would be forced to sell the house or move because the courts will consider it in your children's best interests they have a roof over their heads until they finish education.
SeparatedDads - 13-Sep-16 @ 12:37 PM
Me and my girlfriend (unmarried) have separated after being together for 9 years. We have 2 children.I realize I will have to pay child support as I am already in an order for my daughter thru my previous marriage. We purchased a house however the home is in her name only as my credit was a bit weaker at the time. Do I have any rights to it? And what about the belongings we acquired during our time together: furniture, electronics, tools, things of that nature. So far the only things I have received are my clothes. What rights do I have, if any? And how would I go about excercising those rights??
Cliff - 12-Sep-16 @ 7:04 PM
Me and my ex split 3 years ago, she continues to live in the mortgaged property with our 2 children, I now live in rented accommodation but struggle to make ends meet she is unable to take mortgage on solely and has kept all possessions and will not buy out my share or contribute towards it, very close to bankruptcy and no longer no what to do as I can't afford solicitors fees,please help
Mark - 2-Sep-16 @ 1:42 PM
What happens when a couple have a house that the mans parents bought for them and then they divorce? There is no mortgage but a child involved who spends 50% of his time with both parents. The man wants the house sold so that he can also have some money to provide a home for his son but she will not move. His father has offered to buy his half of the house so that he can move on but his ex wife will not agree to this. The father is happy to say his share of the house wil pass to the grandson but she will not agree. Any answers to this please!
Mylie - 26-Aug-16 @ 12:36 PM
Bert - Your Question:
My wife and I are just about to seperate. I'm looking to move out once I find rented accommodation. Our family home is rented and I have offered to pay a lot more than the CSA calculator says I should for my 2 girls. She claims she is entitled to up to 50% of my earnings. Is this true ? I'm trying to be as amicable as possible and pay more but is she trying it on. Do I need to seek legal advice ?Thx

Our Response:
What you pay is up to you if you are in a family-based arrangement. However, the most the CMS can take is up to 40% of a non-resident parent's salary (only if the NRP has accrued arrears). If you have two children and no other children from a previous or current relationship, then you would pay 25% of your earnings in total. I think your ex is, as you say; 'trying it on.'
SeparatedDads - 22-Aug-16 @ 12:09 PM
My wife and I are just about to seperate. I'm looking to move out once I find rented accommodation. Our family home is rented and I have offered to pay a lot more than the CSA calculator says I should for my 2 girls. She claims she is entitled to up to 50% of my earnings. Is this true ? I'm trying to be as amicable as possible and pay more but is she trying it on. Do I need to seek legal advice ? Thx
Bert - 21-Aug-16 @ 5:46 PM
Rob - Your Question:
I've split up from my girlfriend, and we have a 2 year old baby together. She had been living in my house for the past 2 years with me and my father (I jointly own the house with my father). Does she have any right over the property? She hasn't contributed financially, but does she have a right to live here because she has my child? It's currently just my dad and I living in the house.

Our Response:
If your dad and you are currently living in the house and your ex has moved out with your child, then she has no rights to your property.
SeparatedDads - 16-Aug-16 @ 2:31 PM
I've split up from my girlfriend, and we have a 2 year old baby together. She had been living in my house for the past 2 years with me and my father (I jointly own the house with my father). Does she have any right over the property?She hasn't contributed financially, but does she have a right to live here because she has my child?It's currently just my dad and i living in the house.
Rob - 16-Aug-16 @ 2:45 AM
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