Unless specified, this information relates only to England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, go to Parenting across Scotland for information and advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI direct.

Your house and separation

During separation, it can be difficult to agree and make arrangements that suit all parties around who stays or leaves your home. If you have children, both parents should focus on their needs and ensure they are in a stable home environment.

  • Once you have a secure home, it can be easier to sort out other issues.
  • Understand your legal rights and options to help you plan for the future.
  • If parents can agree between themselves how to move forward, it will benefit the child in the long term.
  • If you can’t agree who stays in the family home, seek legal advice from a solictor or organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

When you get a divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, you will probably need to sort out your financial affairs including updating your will if you have one, and deciding what you will do with the family home. If you can’t work things out yourselves, a court will use these laws to make a decision.

The law in England and Wales dictates that when dividing property on divorce:

  • the court must put the welfare of any children under the age of 18 first
  • you must be truthful about your income, earning power, property and finances

The courts also have to look at other matters including:

  • both your incomes and earning capacities
  • both your responsibilities in the future
  • the standard of living you had and the contribution you made to your relationship before you broke up
  • how old you both are
  • how long you’ve been together
  • if either of you:
    • have any physical or mental disability
    • will lose any benefits after you break up
    • have any debts
  • the transfer of property-for example transferring the marital or family home from one partner to the other, or making sure that a home is being provided for the children
  • the sale of property, so that you can split the money resulting from this between you

Other financial arrangements the divorce court can order

Depending on your circumstances, the court can make orders for the following:

  • maintenance payments, meaning that one partner will have to make regular payments to the other partner after the separation
  • lump sum payments, meaning that one partner will have to make one payment to the other partner to even up how well off you are
  • payments to do with pensions.

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