I am leaving my partner. What happens to my home?

Jennifer peebles portrait.

Jennifer Peebles


Phone 01264 325823

Email jpeebles@bsandi.co.uk

There are two really key elements in your question: ‘partner’ and ‘my home’. I have highlighted these because what these words mean in your particular situation should determine the outcome.

Whether you and your partner are married/in a civil partnership or have simply been living together as a couple is really significant when it comes to what happens when you separate. Also significant is whether you are named on the title deeds or, if you are renting, named in the tenancy agreement.

Joint ownership and joint tenancies can lead to a situation in which the person looking to stay in the property will buy the other out or take over the tenancy. Or, if you both want to move on, you’ll bring the tenancy to an end or sell the property and split the sale price. That is because you each have firm, joint rights in the property. However, the situation can be more complex where only one half of a couple is named as a legal owner or tenant.

Marriage and civil partnership offer a fair bit of protection to a partner whose name is not on the property paperwork. They will not be left with nothing. Instead, each person’s share in the value of the home will (if not otherwise agreed between them) be decided based on need, as opposed to their financial contribution. While the divorce or dissolution is being worked through, each partner has the right to live in the family home, unless a court has ordered otherwise. This is one of a number of ‘home rights’ that applies. It’s wise to get some advice on your position and to consider registering your rights at the Land Registry.

Cohabitees have significantly less protection than married couples and civil partners. Those not named in the deeds are usually in a very precarious situation. Home rights don’t apply, so it’s quite possible that they will walk away from the home with very little to show for it. They may be able to successfully argue that they acquired an interest in the property but there is no getting away from the fact that the situation is far less straightforward than for similarly positioned people in marriages and civil partnership. It’s why we always advise clients to think through the potential consequences before they start living with a partner and ideally to put a cohabitation agreement in place.

To speak to us in confidence about your situation, contact our family department on 01264 353411 or email family@bsandi.co.uk and a member of the team would be happy to help.

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