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Matrimonial Home: What Are My Rights?

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


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)


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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Paul - 24-Jul-19 @ 5:56 PM
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Jo - 19-Jul-19 @ 4:59 PM
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Nelly - 8-Jul-19 @ 7:24 PM
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Bug - 29-Jun-19 @ 11:55 AM
I have been married 18 years. My husband came on a fiancé visa and didn’t have a work permit until 2004/2005. I maintained him and 2 children from a previous marriage and also his child. He never contributed. I purchased my house in 2002/2003, in my sole name as ex-council and they would allow his name on. We used equity and purchased a family home. He argued it to be in his sole name so we were even. I didn’t mind. Now 18 years on, I’ve funded his bad business ventures and lost £130k through unsuccessful businesses. He moved out 7 months ago and is demanding £60k or he will divorce me. He says he needs it to stand on his feet and find his way, I never get mentioned in his future but the 3 children he has do. Never mentions my older two. Confused as I have maintained him for years, paid the bills, food. Clothing for everyone including him, his car insurance and all the other luxuries. Both houses have had extensions which I have paid for and I am paying the loans including a £17,500k business loan he took out in my name. He has never provided for me or the children. Can he through the children and myself out? Can he force me to sell my investment? Am I better giving him £60k, he only ever spent under £5000 which includes any mortgage payments he made. He lived like a king :(
Reey - 21-Jun-19 @ 5:40 PM
I am seeking advice for the matter of selling my home that I own outright in my single name only that my ex partner lives in with my 10 year old daughter, she is living there with daughter and her eldest Son who was from a previous relationship prior to meeting myself. I believe she may now be having her new boyfriend living with her, and I am still the owner of the property and I pay the mortgage myself which in a way kinda pays for the child maintenance for my daughter. I am wanting to sell the property to get a clean break from my ex as I am blocked on all communications with her and my daughter and I want to sell the home to move on. any advice on this would be very much appreciated.
Dez - 8-Jun-19 @ 11:54 AM
My wife left me saying she had feelings for someone else we had mediation and agreed to joint custody/parental responsibility.My parents helped me to buy the marital home and give her a lump sum I also gave her the car and paid the loan iff that was on it. She then decided she should have the children four days and I could have them three. I've met someone else and she is now saying I can't see them when my partner is staying. It was,her that kept telling me to move onshe said she is taking my to court over the children. She said the children are upset because of my new partner but they really like her and my youngest have told me that she keeps asking them what we have been doing and if my new partner was here which upsets them What can I do
Cloud - 8-Jun-19 @ 10:22 AM
Me and my wife living together since 7 years but had religious marriage only. Now she is asking for divorce and looking for financial settlement.She worked on off but never in regular job. My house is on mortgage and only my name since I bought 5 years ago. I'm the one who is paying mortgage and paid the deposit. We don't have any kid but I had one 9 years old daughter from previous marriage and comes to stay over the weekend. I have paid all the utilities in last 5 yearsand she never contributed. She is also asking for maintenance but she is earning more than me these days. Please advise
Roby - 30-May-19 @ 12:59 AM
Hi there. I met my wife in 2012 and we married in 2014. It's been a up and down marriage over kids not wanting to get involved with each other. Now she says she's had enough and wants me out and hates me. I pay the council rent but her name and her ex husbands name is still on the council tenancy agreement. Even thou they have been divorced for years. I have a good job and she has 5 kids of her own who are all grown up now. And I have 2 daughters who live away. Where do I stand if I get kicked out. I can't afford private rent as I have lots of bills and can't afford private rent on my own. What should I do.
Dazza - 29-May-19 @ 11:47 AM
Split from my ex last Nov, the house we rented was owned by her parents, we paid rent via cash and bank transfer a few times from one of our businesses we had. She has now moved out of that property and has said she is selling it to pay of all her debts. Would I be entitled to anything?
Dadineed - 8-May-19 @ 9:57 PM
Hi, I’m getting a divorce and my husband has informed me that if I don’t agree to his terms, which is half the house and half care for the children. He will make sure the house gets repressed because it’s in his name but I’m on the land registry. Also start trouble if we get viewers for the house and start destroying it. What should I do, I have a solicitor so will inform them.
Dee - 5-May-19 @ 9:32 AM
I split with my ex wife in 2016. And divorced in 2017 i have a joint mortgage with her on our marital home. Which she still lives in with our 9 year old son. I have been told I can't force a sale on the house untill my son is 18 years old. I have been renting a House since the split and haven't paid towards the Mortgage. As I have had my rent to pay. I have equity in the property. Which I don't want to lose. But I'm now wanting to buy a house with my Girlfreind. How do I get my name removed from the marital home and still get the equity I am owed..
Drew - 3-May-19 @ 1:07 PM
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