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Who Stays and Who Goes from the Matrimonial Home?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 8 Jul 2019 |
Spouse Family Home Divorce Expense

If you and your ex are divorcing, probably the biggest asset that you jointly own is your home. You will both need to decide what is going to happen to your home, taking into account your joint financial circumstances, your individual incomes, and the needs of your children.

Mortgage Payments and Equity

Before you decide whether one person is going to stay in the home or not, you and your ex need to work out how much equity is in your property and what your property is worth. It may be that one person staying in the family home is too expensive, so when deciding this issue it is well worth having a good idea of income and outgoings. It isn’t just the mortgage that you’ll need to consider, but also:
  • home contents and buildings insurance,
  • mortgage payment insurance,
  • council tax, and
  • the cost of meeting utility bills.
You should also consider the upkeep of the property. How will the garden be maintained? How will new decorations or other work be paid for? If you have children, will you be able to support them sufficiently and maintain the family home at the same time? As everyone knows, children become more expensive the older they get.

Do You Really Want to Stay?

Of course this is entirely your decision, but a fresh start in a different house may be just the thing you need. You can make it your own, and buy something that is comfortably within your budget. Just because you’re starting again doesn’t mean that your home will necessarily feel like ‘home’ after your marriage has broken up.

Who Needs What?

If one of you is moving out, you will need to decide what stays and what goes. As your ex will be looking to move into another property it could be that they rent or buy somewhere and needs some of the furniture from your home. This is obviously entirely up to you both, but you should be prepared to budget for the extra expense involved in furnishing an extra home.


You will naturally want your divorce to have as little impact on your children as possible. Would they be able to stay at the same school? Are there affordable properties within the area? Or would you want to move elsewhere? If so, what effect would this have on your children's lives and on their ability to have contact with the non-resident parent? Similarly, if you or your spouse’s jobs are in the local area you may want to consider the practicalities of moving further away or staying where you are.

Both Staying on the Deeds

It is not all that rare for both spouses to remain on the deeds of the property even after divorce. This may be because they decided not to sell the property at the time, or because the spouse remaining in the home could not afford to meet the mortgage payments on their own. In these circumstances it would be worth checking whether you and your ex own the property by way of ‘joint tenancy’ or a ‘tenancy in common.’ This is because if you are ‘tenants in common’, you can leave your share of the property to someone else in your will. If you are ‘joint tenants’ your share will automatically pass to your ex spouse on your death. For obvious reasons, this may not be what you want.

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civil partner leftin august last year taking our 2 children with her i am trying to buy her out of house but she won't respond except for.original request of all the equityi have had 3 valuations all.approx 100k and have been paying mortgage in my own since Sept and buidling society will now let me remortgage on my own but how do i get ex to negotiate or accept my offers ?
kaz - 19-Oct-18 @ 6:52 AM
Hi lm still married but living apart from home and wife.we separated. 5 months ago. On 2016 October during massive trust break between us then l put HR1 to my wife’s house.so what will happen this home right registering after. Do l have still right on the property and can she lift it without my consent? Please let me know good. Best regards. Pango
Pango - 23-Aug-18 @ 9:17 AM
Hi me and my wife are living apart since 29 March 2018 she and her doughter forced me to leave the property which she had this from her first marriage maintaining by her ex. Which mortgage free property. So we were living together since 2007 and we married 2012. Only 6 years. But on 2016 we had massive arguments between us she had another house in Italy from her dad after he passed away in 2013. Then l learn she transferred italy property to her 2 adult kids 21-24 years old then l gone to solicitor ask forHR1 form to settle on her property in uk. Since we are not doing well at all in our marriage. So they pushed me out from liviyhe lm out now. She offered me 25 000 pound to devalue the HR1 form then l can be back to home for living again. But trust has gone lm not doing that. So what is the best l can do please let me know. Best regards. Pango
Pango - 22-Aug-18 @ 5:30 PM
Hi Any advice please. My husband wants out - loves me like a sister. Our house valued at £850k. We bought for £230k. I earn £100k We have 2 kids one 17 one 12. Can I buy him out?
Mary - 20-Mar-17 @ 1:20 PM
I am splitting from my wife or my wife is divorcing me, we have a mortgage but there are two other loans with it. The house has been valued between £84,000 and £115,000 with a guidance for sale at £92,000 there is £59,000 outstanding on the mortgage plus other two loans of about £17,000 credit card £4,000 and two by now pay later loans of £1,200 a total of £81,200 which, leaves £10,800 is that what I would have to pay her to buy her out?
Marski - 27-Dec-16 @ 2:41 PM
hi Sarah I too was looking for advice when I read your predicament I worked like a dog to provide my family with a home only for my wife to one day say I only love you like a brother I want a divorce yet if I had the means like your ex has I would give her a house ! I hope you can get the legal system to wake up and kick this abusive pig out. hope you get something sorted flobee
flobee - 16-Jan-16 @ 10:40 PM
Hi Sarah. Was just searching for advise and came across your predicament. I hope things have worked out for you. Lisa x
Lm - 2-Aug-15 @ 4:58 PM
Hi Sarah, If you provide evidence of the dates and times of mediation appointments that have been arranged and subsequently cancelled by your ex would this be enough proof for the court to agree that you had attempted mediation? If they accept that, they may enforce an order to force him to attend mediation or allow you to proceed with the property settlement. I'm not a solicitor just a concerned reader but maybe the Citizen's Advice Bureau could clarify your position.
Lily - 2-May-11 @ 4:37 PM
I was forced out of my house through fear and offered no support to through the legal system as i was working but could not afford to pay a solicitor my ex remained in the house with every thing in it and 3 other properties to boot. He is now remarried living in my house with my belongings. Nothing was sorted before the divorce so now he has no incentivie to sort things as he has it all!! Our daughter (16) became pregnant last year and I need a larger house I can not move as due to his IVA and bad credit history can not get a mortgage or a rental agreement. We have been advised that before attempting to go to court we need to attend mediation but he cancels every appointment. I was abused for 17 years by him and then the legal system helped him to take away any chance i have of a new life. How is this fair???
sarah - 6-Apr-11 @ 4:39 PM
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