Divorce and the Marital Home Myths

Myth

“I’ve lived in this house all my life. The court can’t and won’t make me sell it.”

Fact: Click to view

It can do. The court takes into account the standard of living of the parties when making a decision. If the house is the main asset and it has equity tied up in it, the only option may be for it to be sold so the money can be released.

Myth

“The wife always gets the house in any divorce.”

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There is no set rule in law that the wife gets the house, but children’s needs are given priority. Because of that, they often stay with the mother. The court will firstly secure a home for the children. The end result is that it is often the wife who stays in the property, although the husband may have a charge so that he gets his share when the children have grown up and it is sold.

Myth

“The house is just in my name and I want to sell it. My wife can’t stop me from doing that.”

Fact: Click to view

Your wife may be advised to register a notice at the Land Registry which would certainly impede any attempts you may make to sell or re-mortgage the property. If the court saw that you had tried to take steps of this sort unilaterally – for example you had tried to transfer it to a family member – they could order the house to be transferred back or grant an injunction preventing you from selling it. They would do this if they believed that you were trying to stop your wife from having her fair share of the assets.

Myth

“The house is in my husband’s name only, so I have no rights.”

Fact: Click to view

There is, by law, a right to live in the house as the matrimonial home and your lawyer can protect that right quite simply. A divorce court will not be concerned about whose name the house is in. It will simply be regarded as an asset of the marriage. The law notes who paid the mortgage but it is not relevant to who has rights with regard to the house.

Myth

“It isn’t wrong for me to break into my own property if I have been locked out by my partner, as I am a joint owner.”

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You may be entitled to break in but you could also be guilty of the offence of criminal damage, even to your own property. It is best to avoid breaking into the property and try to negotiate access to the house with your ex-partner directly or with the help of a solicitor.

Myth

“If I move out of the family home, I will lose my right relating to it.”

Fact: Click to view

If you are married or in a civil partnership, you will not lose your rights even if the house is not in your name. The court has the power to adjust rights in property and you can protect your interest in it by registering a caution against it, which will prevent your spouse selling or raising any funds against it until the court gets the opportunity to consider the matter.