The relationship is over, can I be forced to leave the family home?

Well this all depends on whether you are married or not. For the purposes of this article, any reference to marriage also includes civil partnerships.

Upon separation from any relationship, one of you will inevitably have to leave the family home which can lead to stress and uncertainty.

So what can you do?

If the family home is owned in joint names between you and your partner, both of you have the right to occupy the property and to come and go as you please. An individual’s right to occupy their property can only be overridden by a Court Order (sometimes called an ‘Occupation Order’) and/or bail conditions imposed by the Police if there is any ongoing criminal investigation. If you find that the locks to the property have been changed, then you may have been unlawfully evicted from the property which is a criminal offence.

If the family home is owned in your partner’s sole name i.e. your name is not on the property title, then you will still have a right to remain living in the property - but your status will depend on whether or not you are married to your partner and requires more careful consideration.

Practical tip

To ascertain how the family home is owned, you can order a copy of the title register from the Land Registry for a cost of £3 (online copy) or £7 for a copy posted to you. Follow this link to learn more:

‘Matrimonial Home Rights’

If you are married to your partner and the property is owned in their sole name, then you should consider applying for a ‘Matrimonial Home Rights’ Notice to be registered against the property title.

This ‘Notice’ confirms your right to remain living in the family home and prevents you from being evicted by your spouse/civil partner. But note, this Notice can only be applied for in respect of the family home and does not extend to any additional properties there may be e.g. a holiday home.

The right to apply for a Matrimonial Home Rights Notice does not just apply to properties that are owned, but any property where you have a legal right to live e.g. a rental property.

An additional benefit of registering Matrimonial Home Rights is that should your partner try to sell the property, any potential buyers will be warned of your right to occupy the property and this would normally stall the sale.

If you are not married, then you will not be able to apply for Matrimonial Home Rights Notice. Having lived in the property you will as a minimum be considered a ‘licensee’ and therefore in order to ‘evict’ you, a formal Notice to Quit would have to be served on you. Your legal status is a more complicated issue and you should immediately seek advice from a suitably experienced family law solicitor as soon as possible. You may also consider applying to the Court for an Occupation Order.

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