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Dealing with property when separating

This section is aimed at helping separating couples that are looking to understand what can be done when it comes to dividing property.

When divorcing or ending a civil partnership, the biggest financial decision in most cases is how to deal with the family home.

Dividing property when separating is always difficult and legal advice should always be sought where possible. This section on property and separation will give you the base knowledge you need to understand your rights and how property can actually be divided.


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Understanding how properties can be divided

You have several options when it comes to dividing the family home. We have outlined some of the outcomes you may decide to do;

  1. Selling the property – Both parties would move out of the family home and the money raised would go towards buying a new property for each person, if you can afford to do this.
  2. One party decides to buy the other out of the mortgage.
  3. Transferring part of the value – This involves one party ‘giving up’ their ownership rights to the property but keeping an ‘interest’ in the home. When the property is sold they would receive an agreed percentage of its value.
  4. Keep the home and ownership rights as they are – This is a common agreement reached when there are children involved. The home could then be sold when children turn 18 or leave school, depending on your agreement.

Use the ‘Guides’ section below to find information on the following topics:

  • Valuing a home when separating
  • Property adjustment orders
  • Living in the same house during separation



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People who are married or in a civil partnership are not allowed to change the locks on their family home if it has been, the main matrimonial home during the marriage or civil partnership. This is the case whether only one or both of you own or rent the home.

In these circumstances, neither party has the right to change the locks on the property. You both have a legal right to be in the home and neither of you can exclude the other unless you have been to court and obtained a court order.

If one of you leaves the home of your own choice, the other partner still cannot change the locks until an agreement has been reached on the future of the home.

If you and your spouse or civil partner have agreed that one of you will move out temporarily until a more long-term solution has been reached, it’s also best to agree when they can enter the home, for example, to collect belongings.

If the other partner or spouse changes the locks without your agreement, you will be able to get a court order to provide you with a copy of the key

joint mortgage means you and your wife/civil patner are liable for the mortgage until you have paid it off, this is regardless of whether you are still together or even living in the property.

Full Question

My husband and I divorced 2 years ago. I left the family home with our children. We were still very much in love, so my ex moved into my rented accommodation with us. We have now since all moved back to the family home. I received my divorce settlement in respect of the property. My question is where do we stand now with regards to me living back in the family home again.My ex husband is paying the mortage and all the bills and I buy the food/clothes etc.


If you are divorced then you will be treated as a girlfriend would be if the house is now in his sole name.

If you were to separate again then you may be entitled to some money by virtue of any contribution you make to the property.

Full Question

My Wife and I are contemplating divorce on the grounds of her committing Adultery. My wife does not work and wants to find a place to live with her new partner in our current town. Both she and her partner cannot afford to rent a house near our children’s schools. They have asked if they can buy my share of our house. Is this possible? – If so, what would be involved?


The divorce part is very straight forward and indeed you do not have to actually name the third party and for the purposes of speed it is best not to.

As for the house, they will have to make you an offer as to what she will pay you to transfer your title to her.

Then she will have to obtain a mortgage to raise the additional funds to pay you. This can either be by way of a remortgage or a further advance from your existing lender.

In the meantime, you will need to have a court order drawn up ordering the transfer and payment to you within a defined period (usually 56 days of the order).

The order will then go on to dismiss all potential matrimonial claims between you, so once the transfer has taken place, neither party can then go back to court to ask for further capital (property, cash, savings, pensions etc) or income (maintenance)

She will have to separately instruct a conveyancer to deal with the transfer of the deeds, the payment to you and the remortgage or further advance. She will also have to bear this cost.

Full Question

I have two daughters, one at university, the other is in the lower sixth at school, i.e. has another year to go. Will I be able to stay in the house until she has (a) finished her education at school and/or (b) finished at uni.


It depends what any court order or separation agreement says but it is usually until they finish full time education which is 6th form or college. However if the order says education then this will include University.

Full Question

My wife has just taken legal advice from a solicitor who claims that she can claim more than 50% of the property value, plus a sum for her on top of maintenance for our two year old – surely this isn’t fair given that she committed adultery – also given that up until Sept last year she paid nothing into the mortgage account. Please help.


The fact that she committed adultery is irrelevant I am afraid. The court would look at her needs and the intentions of the parties towards the assets. She is entitled to 50% of the matrimonial assets in any event. She may be able to claim more if she needs extra capital in order to finance the purchase of a house for her and your two year old. She may be entitled to some spouse maintenance for herself for a limited period but that depends on what her needs are and whether she is capable of working.


The fact that yours is not a short marriage does make a difference to the settlement. There is no reason to suggest that you are entitled to two thirds. The child will be considered appropriately and you should try to reach an agreement or come to an arrangement regarding child maintenance. Each case is different and you have not provided details of your particular case.

I would urge you to seek independent legal advice on this.

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