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Matrimonial Home: What Are My Rights?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 21 Jun 2019 |
 
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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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
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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
If I have been marriedfor 40years my husband stilllives with mebut leaves everything to son is there anything I can do
Diane - 9-Apr-19 @ 2:58 PM
I have 4 children aged 7-9-16-18 the marriage has broken down and she wants me to move out the mortgage is in both names I have found somewhere else to live I am the only working one in the house she gets carers allowance for looking after her grandma where do I stand financially would I have to pay all the mortgage or only half
Paul Sweeney - 9-Apr-19 @ 12:37 PM
I Been married 9 years and have 3 kids, only one is biologicaly mine.. we lived in a council house.The tenancy is in her name and I'm only down as an occupier. Up until Xmas 2018 I thought we were good, as it turns out my now to be ex wife left me in January and moved in with her drug dealer new boyfriend!. My kids are in temp foster placement and I have a strong possibility of getting them back as a single parent through the court. What right do I have to take over the tenancy and how do I go about it? As she is now threatening me to move back into the house I've worked hard in with this man!. Help!.
Taff73 - 7-Apr-19 @ 2:24 PM
Hi. I am married with my husband for 7 years. Three years ago he bought a council flat took mortgage everything on his name. My name is only on council tax. When he was buyingproperty he gave me to sign a paper and ask my friend to sign it. Basically we did sign it with no reading as he told it's too sort quicker to get mortgage. Now from today he told me I have to move out because it's his property and that I have signed a paper that I am only a tenant and I am not entitled to anything. Can he kick me out?He told me he will kick me out and that he will call police.Can he do that? I am scared now I have nowhere to go.
Emma25 - 22-Mar-19 @ 6:34 PM
Hello, I wonder if you can help with letting me know what my options are. I have spilt with the mother of my kids, 7 and 2, and left our rented accommodation which I am still paying for along with all bills. The tenancy is in my name as I am the one who has a full time job and I have given notice to the estate agent. The 'checkout' date is May 2nd. My ex is now saying she will stay in the property after the date. I am happy to pay maintenance and my kids are my priority but I don't want to continue to pay for a property that I no longer live in and I also need to find accommodation for myself as I am currently staying with my brother who will be moving 'up north' very soon. Communication with my ex is rapidly deteriorating and I find her unreasonable to deal with. What advise would you give? Thanks in advance.
fatheroftwo - 13-Mar-19 @ 2:50 PM
Hi, have been married to my wife for 4 years now but have been staying together for 8 years. We about to divorce, she got the house is on a mortgage 4 years before we met so it’s all in her name. I have been contributing 50% of everything for the last 8 years. Would I be entitled to a some share of the property when we divorce.
Well1977 - 11-Feb-19 @ 1:19 AM
I split up from my wife in 2016, we own a house jointly which there is a mortgage on together with a loan. After we separated I continued to pay the mortgage whilst giving my ex maintenance for our children. Since then I have met my partner and we have had a child together, as a result my child maintenance payments have reduced (as per CMS) . My partner has now moved her new partner into my house. They have just got engaged and as I am getting married too now is the time to get things sorted. The property is owned jointly, I paid the mortgage for 10 years on my own until we split. Can I force a sale of the house or get my ex partner to buy me out of the house. What will happen with the loan? I will not be liable for a property that my ex partner and her latest boyfriend are living in.
Matt - 4-Feb-19 @ 1:06 PM
Broke up with my husband 4years ago. I'm in a council flat. He's still in the house. It's a joint mortgage which is paid off. I want to move on and need money. How do i get my share of the house?
Brogan - 31-Jan-19 @ 10:07 PM
I've split with my husband of 40 years. He's still in the marital home and I'm in a council flat. I need money to move on. It was a joint mortgage which is paid off. We're do I stand. I don't really want him to sell.
Brogan - 31-Jan-19 @ 10:04 PM
I am the sole tenant of a one bedroom Council flat. My ex wife is not entitled to any government funds. We have an 8 year old daughter. Who gets to keep the flat?
Steve - 16-Jan-19 @ 9:13 AM
I've been separated legally from my ex-wife 11 years ,A month agoI sign the papers for divorce I am selling my house l have lived in 11 years what is she entitled to ASL of closing
None - 2-Jan-19 @ 7:28 PM
I have a joint mortgage with my ex wife and she has just got engaged to her partner. If they get married would he have any right to my half of the house? My boy still lives there and things are amicable between us. There's about 9yrs left on the mortgage. But just wondered. Thanks.
Phil - 27-Dec-18 @ 11:34 PM
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C - 12-Nov-18 @ 10:02 PM
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jonjon61 - 6-Nov-18 @ 6:35 PM
Hi. I recently split with my long term partner who we have 2 kids. She has found her own home to live in for which she receives support with the rent in benefits. I also pay full child maintenance. our property which we both own has been empty for the last 6 months, but in the last 3 months she hasn't paid her half of the mortgage. She originally agreed to sell the house to me. Recently she has been in and emptied the property of all possessions without my consent. I since changed the locks to stop her entering again and taking anything against my will. Since this she has now refused to sell the house to me. She does still want to sell the house, just not to me as she wants to make my life difficult. Currently I live with parents but have no stable home for when I have my kids. I have been reasonable with her, but am going to be proceeding with court to settle this. What is the stance with her wanting to sell the property, just not to me? How would a judge likely view this? Thanks for any help
jonjon61 - 6-Nov-18 @ 6:23 PM
My wife bought the house we are living in 15 years ago (she is solely on the deeds of the house). We got married a year ago but we have been living together in that house for 7 years. We were thinking to put me on the deeds of the house in case something happens to her (or we get a divorce), but the bank is threatening on changing the conditions on the mortgage (raising the interest rate dramatically). We’ve been told that we could sign an agreement in which she agrees to share the ownership of the house with me (50% ownership). Is this possible? What should be the requirements in order to make this agreement legally binding? Thanks for your support
Will - 3-Nov-18 @ 4:43 PM
My wife has seperated from me in 12/6/18 as we had a row again about her son my stepson selling drugs from our home police where involved my wife hasn't let me back home since and just 2weeks later I receive a seperating note from her scolisitor since this I lied to police about my accusations towards her son to try save our marriage but she dosent want to know she also wants to buye me out of the home although I transfered the full sum of money to buye the house and also refreb with my monsy after selling my home I'm now liveing in a flat which I can hardly afford she's doin extensive worth refurb to the house also with out my concent where do I stand as I'm now basically broke and homeless?
Duck - 24-Oct-18 @ 11:03 PM
Hi, My wife and I have been married for 17 years. We have a 7 year old son. We are separated and my wife is being unpleasant. We are all still living in the FMH together. My wife and I have both contributed more or less equally to the FMH. There is enough equity in the FMH for us both to have an amazing deposit on 2 smaller new homes, but not buy new homes outright. My wife wants to remain in the FMH. I want to sell the FMH and split the proceeds. There are no other assets in the family worth mentioning. Question: what are the chances of my wife being able to remain in the FMH and me being kicked out with nothing at all? Thanks for your help!
Shane76 - 15-Oct-18 @ 12:07 PM
Still married to ex wife and we have a 13 year old child together. I left 9 years ago and see them at the house 2 times a week. I want to sell the house to get on with my life with my new partner but i am still paying every bill including the mortgage plus give her £80 a week on top for their shopping. The ex wife doesnt want to move as its 4 bed and large but she is a hoarder and every room is untidy and it all needs painting. I have been trying hard last 4 years to get it tidy enough to sell but she is constantly dragging her heels and says she is too tired/ill (she doesnt work as she says she's to ill...) and its just dragging on but i have come to the end of my fuse as i am getting huge pressure from everyone else to get the house sold. I cannot reason with her as she just gets childish about it. Its costing me over £20k a year which i can barely afford. I am supposed to pay just £95 towards my child based on my earnings
Idiot - 10-Oct-18 @ 11:38 AM
What's the legal position over shared sheltered housing association property where the wife signed for it first but joint names are in the tenancy and husband pays the rent and all the bills. If I left her would I have to continue to pay all the bills and how can I get a property on my own is there anyone I can contact. We have been married over 40 years pensioner with 2 private small pensions, but I cannot live with her moods anymore but I am frightened to leave for fear of not being able to manage money wise paying for 2 rents etc.
BOYLE - 9-Oct-18 @ 2:44 PM
Rohan - Your Question:
My wife and I have divorced. She moved out of our jointly owned home and for 15 months has not paid anything towards rates. Or the morgatage. Is she still entilted to half due to myslef only servicing the bills for this period?

Our Response:
This would have to be negotiated between you. If you have children, it would make a difference in the eyes of the courts. If you don't then what you both have put into the property and taken out should be agreed on and divided equally, preferably by mutual agreement, or mediation.
SeparatedDads - 11-Sep-18 @ 10:08 AM
My wife and i have divorced. She moved out of our jointly owned home and for 15 months has not paid anything towards rates. Or the morgatage. Is she still entilted to half due to myslef only servicing the bills for this period?
Rohan - 10-Sep-18 @ 4:20 AM
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