We’ve Split Up but My Name Isn’t on the Mortgage - What Can I Do?

David Lister
David Lister
Partner, Head of Family Law

Updated 04/01/2022

What happens if you break up with your partner, but they own the house? Do you have any rights or say in what happens to it now that you've split up?

Regardless of whether it’s amicable or not, splitting up with someone is hard, especially if you’ve been living together. Alongside the usual ‘discussions’ around who gets the 100% wool rug from John Lewis and the 75-inch TV, are often difficult and frank conversations around what will happen to the house you both live in.

If your ex-partner owns the house, what does that mean for you? Can you still live there? Do you have any control over whether it gets sold and who it gets sold to? And do you have any financial claim over it?

It can be a worrying time if you’ve split with your partner and you’re living in a house that they own. If you’re concerned about what will happen to you, our specialist Family Law Solicitors can help you.

Call us on 0808 239 3465 or request a callback

What can I do if my name isn’t on the mortgage?

In a nutshell, the rights you have to your home largely depend on whether you’re married, in a civil partnership or not.

I’m married or in a civil partnership – what are my rights over the house?

If you’re married or in a civil partnership but your husband or wife owns the house, it’s good news: You’ll probably have more rights to your home than you might think.

Even if the house deposit, mortgage, and repayments are all under your ex-partner’s name, because it’s your matrimonial home, the law assumes that you both share this asset. So, your home should be split between you and your former partner once you separate.

Some couples can agree on how to split the house themselves. But if you can’t agree, you can try mediation, negotiation with a Family Law Solicitor or as a last resort, let the courts decide for you.

The team of Simpson Millar Family Law Solicitors know how upsetting, emotional and stressful it is when you have to go to court and fight your ex-partner for what’s rightfully yours. The team will be there, supporting you all the way through and will make sure the whole process is as quick and pain-free as possible.

If you can’t agree and you ask the Court to decide how to split your house, the Court will look at the needs of both people. In most cases, it’s unlikely to be an equal, 50/50 split. Their main aim is to make it as fair as possible and to make sure that both parties have a roof over their heads.

Before making their decision on how to split your home, they’ll usually look at:

  • The length of your marriage
  • Your age
  • Your earnings
  • If you have children and who they will mostly live with
    Your intentions with the property

So, even if your former partner purchased the property by themselves, you still have every right to remain living there, on a temporary basis if nothing else, and you might even be entitled to a share of its value.

But, to prove you have these matrimonial rights to your home, you do need to register your “matrimonial home rights” with the Land Registry.

How to register your matrimonial home rights

Registering your matrimonial home rights with the Land Registry won’t give you ownership of the property, but it will mean that you can stay living there and that it can’t be sold, transferred or mortgaged without your knowledge or permission.

To register your rights to your matrimonial home, you’ll need:

  • The name that’s on the property title deed (this will be your husband or wife's name)
  • The property title number. You can find this by searching on the Property Register
  • A completed Notice of Home Rights document, often referred to as an HR1

I’m not married or in a civil partnership - what rights do I have over the house?

If you’re not married or in a civil partnership, unfortunately things are different. It’s not all bad news though. There are still things you can do to protect yourself and make sure that you keep a roof over your head.

You’ll have heard of a prenup: A legally binding contract that’s designed to protect your assets if you decide to split up. Well, you can do something similar with your house. Because you’re not married, you’ll have no automatic financial rights to the property. So, you can get what’s called a ‘Cohabitation Agreement’ drawn up which will outline each person’s share of the property.

If you need help with this, contact one of our Family Law Solicitors. They can easily sort this out for you. Remember that Living Together Agreements are not enforceable in England and Wales. But they do show the intention of you both at the start of the relationship.

There are a couple of options:

Option 1. Negotiate a deed of separation

You could get one of our Family Law Solicitors to draw up a contract between you and your partner that outlines how the house value should be divided and what your future living arrangements will be.

Option 2. Go to court and prove your investment in the property

It’s common in relationships for one person to pay off the mortgage while the other pays all the bills. Or sometimes one partner might contribute to the house deposit, pay for a loft conversion or complete major renovation work on the property while the other takes care of the mortgage. This approach keeps things financially fair, without the hassle of having to update the mortgage paperwork.

These types of investments show that you’ve made a significant contribution to the property. One that’s over and above what’s usually expected from a normal cohabitee. This means you can go to Court and argue that you have what’s called a ‘Beneficial Interest’ in the property and are, therefore, entitled to some of the property proceeds or can at least still live there, temporarily.

Our Family Law legal team can explain the ‘Beneficial Interest’ process in more detail, just give them a call or drop them a message.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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