Following separation or divorce, sorting out the family finances and where you are going to live can be worrying. You will need to understand your legal rights and responsibilities to your home and have information on mortgage or rent issues to ensure you have stability for both yourself and your children.

When you separate, understanding the legal rights and responsibilities to your home can help you make informed decisions about your future and help you move forward.

  • Get support to help you understand your housing rights and plan your future.
  • If you’re facing eviction, make sure you get advice immediately.
  • Your local council may be able help with temporary or emergency accommodation.

Your housing rights and options will depend largely on:

  • whether you were married or in a civil partnership, or just living together
  • who owns your home
  • where you live in the UK

Your options are likely to change significantly once your separation is formalised. And whether your home is rented or owned is an important factor to consider.

We’ve covered some of the most common scenarios below. You can also get more information from the Money Advice Service.

Both of you have the right to return to it at any time unless there is a court order against it.

If you have a joint mortgage then you are both responsible for making the monthly repayments. If you move out of the house this does not mean you are no longer responsible for the payments.

You both usually still have the right to live there until you divorce or your partnership is dissolved. But your rights can be changed by a court order, and if you haven’t contributed to the purchase of your home you may not be able to stay.

Both of you have the right to stay there unless a court order says you shouldn’t.

If one of you leaves the home the other will be responsible for paying the rent. If you can’t agree on what happens next a court may have to decide.

If you’re renting under the other parent’s name

You may need to get specialist housing advice if the other parent chooses to end the tenancy. You may be able to take over the tenancy in your own name, but this isn’t guaranteed.

You may need to continue sharing a home after separation. You can still do this and be classed as legally separated as long as you don’t share a bed, your meals or household chores.

If you’re worried about becoming homeless, contact Shelter or Citizens Advice straight away.

It’s important to remember you still have certain rights.

Where there is a risk to your safety of that of your child then you may be able to get a court order to stop the other parent going into the property.

You may be able to get free legal advice and representation to help you get a court order against your partner.

If you have to leave home because of domestic violence the local council can:

  • find you emergency accomodation
  • help to store your personal belongings

You may be able to get a court order to protect your property or belongings.

If you are suffering domestic violence or abuse then call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 427 or Mankind on 01823 334244.

Where can I go next?