Who gets the house after divorce UK?

Request a call from a family law solicitor


Divorce often involves complex and emotionally charged decisions, one of the most significant being the division of marital assets, particularly the family home. In the UK, determining who gets the house after a divorce is not always straightforward. Instead, it involves careful consideration of various factors and the application of legal principles aimed at achieving fairness and equity.

The primary concern of the courts is to ensure the welfare of any children involved and to provide for the reasonable needs of both parties. This process can include looking at the length of the marriage, each party’s financial and non-financial contributions, their future earning capacity, and their housing needs. Understanding the nuances of these factors is crucial for anyone navigating the challenging landscape of divorce and asset division in the UK.

If you are wondering ‘who gets the house after divorce UK’, then please get in touch with Expert Family Law today to find out how our experienced family law solicitors can assist you.

What is matrimonial property?

Matrimonial property typically includes the family home and other assets acquired or brought into the marriage by either spouse. This can encompass holiday homes, investment properties, savings, investments, cars, boats, art collections, and similar items.

Pensions accumulated during the marriage are also considered part of matrimonial property. Disputes may arise over what qualifies as matrimonial property, as some assets, like pre-marital property or inheritances, may be excluded from the ‘marital pot.’

Ancillary relief for the division of assets

Ancillary relief is the term used in the UK to describe the financial settlement that is made between divorcing couples, which can include the division of assets, property, and finances. The process of ancillary relief typically involves the following steps:

  1. Gathering information: Both parties are required to provide full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances, including income earning capacity, assets, debts, and pensions.
  2. Negotiations: The parties may try to reach an agreement through negotiations, with or without the help of their solicitors. If an agreement is reached, it can be formalised into a consent order.
  3. Mediation: If negotiations are not successful, the parties may attend mediation, where a neutral third party helps them reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
  4. Court application: If an agreement cannot be reached through negotiations or mediation, either party can make a court application for ancillary relief.
  5. Hearing: The court will hold a hearing to determine the financial settlement. The court will take into account various factors, including the needs of each party, the parties’ respective income and resources, and the length of the marriage.
  6. Order: The court will make an order, which can be a consent order or a court order, setting out the terms of the financial settlement. The order will be binding on both parties.

It is important to note that the process of ancillary relief can be complex and time-consuming, and it is advisable to seek legal advice. 

Who gets the house after divorce UK?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that the family home is considered a marital asset, regardless of whose name is on the mortgage or the title deeds of the property. This means that both parties have equal rights to the property and its value, regardless of who paid the mortgage or made any financial contributions to the property.

When deciding who gets the house in a divorce, the court will consider a number of factors under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These factors include the standard of living of the parties, their financial resources, and the best interests of any children involved. In general, the court will strive to ensure that both parties have a similar standard of living after the divorce and that any children continue to have a safe and stable home. The court will also consider any evidence of domestic violence.

In order to make a fair decision, the court will consider the financial resources of both parties, including their ability to pay the mortgage and maintain the property. If one party has limited financial resources, they may be entitled to a greater share of the property’s value or be granted the right to stay in the house until the children reach a certain age.

The divorce process in the UK involves negotiating financial settlements that are legally binding. This may involve selling the house and dividing the proceeds, or one party may be required to buy out the other’s share of the property. In some cases, a court order may be required to sell the property, especially if one party is unwilling to agree to a sale.

In some cases, the mortgage lender may require that the property be sold, even if one party wishes to retain it. In these situations, a consent order may be required to allow the sale of the property.

In conclusion, who gets the house in a divorce in the UK depends on several factors, including the standard of living, financial resources, and home rights with the Land Registry.

Legal advice is essential during the divorce process, and a court order is legally binding and determines the distribution of assets and liabilities, including the marital home.

Are there circumstances when the family home isn’t split equally?

The initial assumption in any divorce is that the family home should be divided equally. However, there are several circumstances where this may not be the case. For example, if one spouse:

  • Continues to live in the house with young children;
  • Needs a larger share of the sale proceeds to rehouse the children;
  • Has a disability and therefore a greater need for housing provision;
  • Contributed significantly more to the deposit and mortgage, particularly in a very short marriage. 

Who is responsible for paying the mortgage?

In the UK, the person who is named on the mortgage is responsible for paying it, regardless of their marital status. If the mortgage is in joint names, both parties are equally responsible for paying it. In a divorce, the court may make an order for one party to transfer their interest in the property to the other, or for one party to buy out the other’s share.

To ensure that mortgage repayments are made, it is crucial to discuss early on how the mortgage will be paid during your separation. This is especially important if you plan to obtain a mortgage in your sole name soon, as arrears on your joint mortgage can harm your credit rating. Additionally, avoid making any changes to the current arrangements without first consulting your solicitor.

What rights does joint ownership give you?

If you are joint owners of a home, you have certain rights and responsibilities during a divorce, governed by property ownership laws.

Generally, as joint owners, both spouses have an equal right to occupy the property unless the court orders otherwise. This means neither spouse can force the other to leave without a court order.

When dividing the proceeds from the sale of a shared property, the court will consider several factors, including the financial circumstances of each spouse, the length of the marriage, and other relevant considerations.

Do I lose my rights if I move out of the family home?

If you decide you can no longer live in the family home, you can rest assured that moving out will not affect your rights to the property.

In some situations, moving out is the best option to protect your mental health. It can also improve relations in the long run, especially when children are involved, by shielding them from witnessing parental conflicts.

If you leave the home, we recommend taking your personal possessions and financial records with you. Even though you still have a legal interest in the home, it is advisable not to return unannounced. Instead, make arrangements with your spouse if you need to return for any reason.

If you need to move out due to domestic abuse, seek urgent legal advice. It may be possible to obtain a court order removing your spouse from the home instead of you having to leave.

Can home sales be postponed?

The financial aspects of divorce proceedings can be complex, and it is not uncommon for the sale of a property to be postponed until after the divorce is finalised. This delay can result from several factors, including disagreements over the property’s value, disputes over how the sale proceeds will be divided, or the need to resolve other financial or property-related issues first.

Postponing the sale can also benefit children by providing stability despite the parents’ separation. In some cases, the parties might agree to sell the home only after the youngest child turns 18 and moves out. At that point, the house can be sold, and the proceeds divided.

However, postponing the sale of a home during a divorce can have financial implications, as the property will continue to incur expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs. It is important to have an agreement in place regarding these matters if possible.

Can you be forced to sell your home during a divorce?

Even if you do not agree to a sale, the Court can order the sale of a house, including property you own jointly or solely. This is known as an Order for Sale.

If an Order for Sale is granted, both spouses are legally required to comply with the court’s decision. Non-compliance can result in a judge stepping in to sign any necessary paperwork on behalf of the uncooperative party to facilitate the sale. The proceeds from the sale will be divided between the spouses according to the final judgment. 

How can Expert Family Law assist?

Our panel of solicitors can deal with all aspects of a divorce, including ancillary relief and the dividing of assets between parties to a divorce. The breakdown of a marriage is never easy, and we aim to ensure the process of obtaining ancillary relief is as stress free as possible.

Expert Family Law can assist parties to a divorce whether you are married or in a divorce with children or without children, we can help. We can assist those who wish to have their house sold and proceeds divided, those selling the house in a divorce with children, and those wishing to defer the house in a divorce with children.

We ensure that the divorce solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

The solicitors on our panel can assist you through the process of divorce, including the application, as well as assisting you with child arrangements, financial settlements and ancillary relief following the termination of your marriage.

If you are still asking the question “who gets the house after divorce (UK)?”, contact us today.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a divorce solicitor from our panel could help on your case.


Divorce Proceedings

Ancillary Relief

Domestic Abuse

Child arrangements

Expert Family Law

Keep up to date with the latest family law news