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Common questions about divorce: How can I protect my interest in the matrimonial home?


Associate solicitor Rebecca Patience and legal apprentice Grace McGarvey from Harrison Drury’s divorce and family law team outline and explain the process behind protecting a non-property owner from being removed from the matrimonial home during divorce proceedings.

When two people marry or enter into a civil partnership, each person automatically becomes entitled to Matrimonial Home Rights.

Matrimonial Home Rights means that each person has a legal right to occupy the matrimonial home regardless of whether the property is jointly owned or owned in one party’s sole name.

What is a Home Rights Notice?

A Home Rights Notice is a notice that can be entered onto the title of the property at the Land Registry if the property is owned by one party only. 

Why would I want to register of Home Rights Notice?

The main purpose of a Home Rights Notice is to prevent the non-property-owning spouse from being removed from their own home during a divorce and being made homeless.

The non-property owner’s interest will be registered on the property title and they will be notified if there is an attempt to change any of the details on the register such as an attempt to sell the property.

The process is very straightforward and involves an application to HM Land Registry, as long as the parties are legally married, and the spouse is using or intending to use the property as their primary residence.

Once the Home Rights Notice is registered on the property, it is clear to potential buyers that a ‘non-owning’ spouse has rights to occupy the property. This entry on the register is likely to deter potential buyers as it may be that the non-owning spouse does not wish to sell. This would make the conveyancing transaction lengthy and difficult. It may also hamper re-mortgaging.

How can a Home Rights Notice be removed?

A Home Rights Notice can only be removed in limited circumstances. These include:

  • An application of the person with the benefit of the rights (i.e. the non-property owning spouse).
  • On the grant of a Final Order of divorce (being the final order ending the marriage).
  • On the death of either spouse.
  • Permission from the court.

It is important that if you are a non-property-owning spouse and you are going through a separation, that you contact a solicitor to consider placing a Home Rights Notice on the legal title of the matrimonial home.

If you would like to arrange an initial consultation with a member of our divorce and family law team, please contact Harrison Drury on 01772 258321.

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