What are my rights if my name is not on the deeds and I’m getting divorced?

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Divorce solicitor Paul Jordan responds to the frequently asked question, “What are my rights if my name is not on the deeds when I’m getting divorced?”

Most married couples who own a house will have both their names on the title deeds, or the registered title as it is now known. However, for a variety of reasons this isn’t always the case and there is a significant proportion of cases where only the name of one spouse is registered. This doesn’t usually cause any serious issues while the couple are happily married, but what happens when they split up and divorce looms?

The law recognises that your family home is treated as a special type of asset. The courts appreciate that married couples tend to treat their family home as belonging to them both, even if it is in the name of just one of the spouses. However, where a property is registered in the name of just one spouse it does create a risk that the owning spouse could sell or mortgage the property without the non-owning spouse consenting or even being made aware of what is happening. The consequences of this could be catastrophic. So when separating or getting divorced I would recommend that the non-owning spouse should consider registering their marital right of occupation in respect of the family home.

Registering a marital right of occupation is a straightforward process. Once the application has been processed the owning spouse will be notified that an entry has been placed at the Land Registry.

It is important to note that this registration only protects a right of occupation and does not in itself give rise to a financial entitlement. But it does safeguard the non owning spouse while financial matters are sorted out by ensuring that they will be made aware in advance of any attempt by the owning spouse to raise funds on the family home or sell it behind their back.

Here is a link that can be used to register a marital right of occupation https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-of-home-rights-registration-hr1 However, ideally you should take specialist legal advice before making an application as your spouse will be notified of the entry and it is important that you fully consider all the legal implications of this action before they are informed. I would also urge you to speak to a solicitor if you are alerted to any attempt by your spouse to sell or mortgage the family home without your knowledge and consent.

If you are in a position where you have been left asking, “What are my rights if my name is not on the deeds?”, then call Paul Jordan for free initial guidance on 0808 130 1606 or drop him an email with brief details of your situation at [email protected]