Thinking about separating or divorcing from your spouse or civil partner but the matrimonial home is in their sole name?
As family lawyers, we are often asked by clients “I am not registered on the title deeds of the matrimonial home and my spouse or civil partner has said they will kick me out…or what will happen if I leave the matrimonial home knowing I am not registered on the title deeds, could my spouse or civil partner sell the matrimonial home without me knowing?”
"The Family Law Act 1996 as amended by the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is there to protect the right of a spouse or civil partner to occupy the matrimonial home, or to enter and occupy the matrimonial home, or to stop your spouse or civil partner from selling or re-mortgaging/mortgaging the matrimonial home," explains Family Trainee Solicitor Amy Leung.
If the matrimonial home is registered at the Land Registry, an application for registration of a notice of home rights can easily be lodged with the Land Registry. When the application is lodged, the Land Registry will serve a notice on the registered proprietor (your spouse or civil partner) to notify them of your application to enter a home rights notice onto the register.
If there is a mortgage registered against the title of the matrimonial home then the lender should also receive notification of the registration of the home rights notice.
Once the home rights notice has been registered, it will act as a charge on the matrimonial home resulting in the registered proprietor (i.e. your spouse or civil partner) being unable to sell or mortgage the property unless written consent has been received from the spouse or civil partner in whose favour the right is registered (you).
However, the home rights notice does not prevent a lender from issuing possession proceedings against a property in the event of a breach of the terms of the mortgage, e.g. non-payment.
Your rights of occupation may only be protected in respect of one home at any one time and you can only apply for this if your spouse or civil partner owns the property on their own. You cannot apply for the home rights to be registered if your spouse or civil partner owns the property with someone else unless your spouse or civil partner would get all the money if the property was sold, i.e. your spouse or civil partner is the sole beneficial owner.
If you are considering separating or divorcing from your spouse or civil partner and are concerned about property ownership then come to us for advice for what you can and should do to protect yourself.
Our Family Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Amy or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.