Can my ex-Husband or Wife Make a Claim on a House Bought After We Split up?

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Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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A common question we’re asked is whether an ex-husband or ex-wife can make a claim against a new house if it was bought after the marriage broke down.

It’s important to note that in Family Law, the outcome of each case will depend largely on individual circumstances. However, in general, any new asset like a house will not be “off the table” for your ex-husband or ex-wife to claim an interest in,  after you get a divorce unless you already have a court order which confirms how your matrimonial finances are to be divided and this order has been implemented and includes a “clean break” clause.

an image of terraced houses

Whether your ex-spouse is successful or not in gaining anything from their claim will depend on a number of factors, including whether they have. There are things you can do to avoid this situation altogether, read on to find out more or get in touch with our expert Family and Divorce Solicitors for further advice.

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The Role of Matrimonial Property Law

To understand whether an ex-spouse can make a claim on a house acquired after you’ve separated, we must first look at the legal framework governing matrimonial property in the UK. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is a key piece of legislation that outlines the principles and considerations in financial settlements following divorce or separation.

No Automatic Claims on Post-Separation Acquisitions

In the context of assets acquired after separation, it is crucial to emphasise that there is no automatic right for an ex-spouse to make a claim. The general principle in UK law is that assets acquired after the separation are typically excluded from the 'matrimonial pot' that is subject to division between the parties. However, there are exceptions and factors that can influence the situation.

An unhappy couple sat at opposite ends of a sofa

The Importance of the Clean Break Clause

To reduce the chance of your ex-partner asking for your stuff after you've split up, it is best to get a a Financial Order which includes a clean break clause when you're sorting out the divorce or separation. The Clean Break clause cuts the financial links between spouses, so neither can demand financial assistance from the other later on. A Financial Order is a document from the court that officially sets out who gets what - like money, property, belongings, and pensions - when a married couple or civil partners split up.

Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is an important rule that helps courts decide how to divide money and belongings when a couple gets divorced or separated. It lists different things the court has to think about.

This includes:

  • The income, earning capacity, property, and other financial resources of both parties.
  • The financial needs, obligations, responsibilities, and standard of living of the parties.
  • The age of each party and the duration of the marriage.
  • Any physical or mental disabilities.
  • Contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family.
  • The value of any benefit, such as a pension, which either party will lose because of the divorce or separation.
  • The conduct of each party, but only if it is so bad that it would be unfair to ignore it.

The Impact of Post-Separation Acquisitions

Usually, things you get after separating are not included when sharing belongings in a divorce. But sometimes, the court might still take them into consideration. The court looks at things like what both people need, how much money they have, how long they were married, and the kind of life they had together. For example, if a house is purchased by 1 person post-separation and the other person has no way of meeting their housing needs it may be that they get a greater share of the matrimonial money.

Remember, family law cases are different for each situation. How the court handles claims on things gained after separating will be unique to each case. What happens in one case is likely to be different from another.

How Can I Protect My Future Assets?

One effective way to protect against future claims on post-separation assets is to obtain a Financial Order or Consent Order which contains a clean break clause at the same time as the divorce or separation. These orders provide legal clarity and closure, ensuring that neither party can make financial claims against the other in the future.

Any new assets you obtain after getting a divorce are only safe against future claims if there is a financial order in place that severs both you and your ex-partner’s right to make a claim.

If you’re considering a significant change in circumstances, such as buying a new house after separating from your partner, we would always advise seeking legal advice.

One of Simpson Millar’s experienced Divorce and Family Solicitors will be able to help you to understand how your new property could be impacted by any future claims and assist you in putting an order in place.

I’m Already Divorced – is it too Late to get a Financial Order?

We would always strongly encourage getting a financial order at the time of your divorce, but if you’ve already finished divorce proceedings, you can still obtain a court order to protect any new assets you acquire.

Our Family and Divorce Solicitors are specialists in financial orders and settlements, we can help you understand how best to move forward with your life after divorce whilst also bearing in mind how your finances and assets are protected in the future.

Are there any exceptions where an ex-spouse can claim on a house bought after separation?

While assets acquired after separation are generally excluded from the matrimonial pot, exceptions exist. The needs and financial resources of both parties, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage are some factors that can influence the court's decision. If your ex-spouse can demonstrate a legitimate financial need, the court may consider post-separation acquisitions.

What happens if I buy a house with my new partner after the separation? Can my ex-spouse make a claim on that property?

Assets acquired with a new partner after separation are typically treated as separate property and are unlikely to be considered in financial settlements with your previous spouse. However, individual circumstances and the specific terms of any agreements made during the divorce or separation can influence the outcome. It is essential to maintain clear records and, if necessary, consult with legal experts to protect your interests.

Can a property purchased post-separation be included in the division of assets if the separation agreement is not finalised yet?

Until a financial agreement is finalised matters relating to the financial circumstances of each party can be taken into consideration as the financial settlement remains pending. The division of assets, including properties acquired after separation, can be influenced by the terms of the final agreement. To avoid potential claims from your ex-spouse, it is advisable to reach a legally binding agreement and obtain a court order with a clean break clause before taking any new steps in relation to your financial position.

Can my ex-spouse claim on a house I bought post-separation if they contributed financially to its purchase or upkeep?

If your ex-spouse can demonstrate a financial contribution to the acquisition or maintenance of the property, this may affect their ability to make a claim. The court may consider their financial involvement when evaluating the case. However, the specific details of the contribution and the legal framework are crucial factors to consider. Obtaining legal advice is recommended to navigate these complex scenarios effectively.

an unhappy couple in a garden

Can the court order the sale of a house purchased post-separation to meet a financial settlement?

In certain circumstances, the court may order the sale of a house acquired after separation to meet a financial settlement. This can occur if the court deems it necessary to achieve a fair and equitable division of assets. Such decisions are influenced by various factors, and legal guidance is essential to protect your interests and rights in these situations.

Get in touch with Simpson Millar for legal advice around post-marital assets distributions

Handling the division of assets, especially houses bought after a separation, can be tricky in family law. Although there's a usual rule that things gained after separating aren't counted in the shared belongings, there are exceptions, and a family law solicitor can help clarify how this works.

To safeguard against potential claims from an ex-spouse, it's highly recommended to get a financial order which contains a clean break clause from the court. This order can be agreed by consent with your spouse/ex-spouse or can be imposed by the court if you are unable to reach an agreement. These legal documents help in clearly defining who gets what and severing financial ties, preventing future claims.

Navigating these complexities often requires the expertise of legal professionals specialising in family law. At Simpson Millar, we will offer personalised advice and recommend a suitable financial order to help protect you. If you're facing these challenging situations, consider reaching out to our friendly solicitors for legal guidance. Feel free to contact us today to get advice that suits your unique situation.


Hookway, A. (2015) What happens to the family home in the event of a divorce?, HM Land Registry. Available at: (Accessed: 14 February 2024).

Participation, E. (1996) Family law act 1996, Available at: (Accessed: 14 February 2024).

Participation, E. (1981) Matrimonial causes act 1973, Available at: (Accessed: 14 February 2024).

Service, G.D. (2015) Money and property when you divorce or separate, GOV.UK. Available at: (Accessed: 14 February 2024).

(No date a) D190 I want to apply for a financial order. Available at: (Accessed: 14 February 2024).

Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

Areas of Expertise:
Family Law

Lorraine is a Partner at Simpson Millar, specialising in Family Law for over 20 years.

She handles middle to high net value cases, including pension claims and complex trust, and also advises on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Lorraine has unrivalled knowledge of public sector pensions, in particular police pensions, having advised police officers on pension claims for two decades.

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