If you are thinking of – or are currently in the process of- separating from your husband (or wife), you may be wondering what you are entitled to from a financial and property perspective.
Divorce law can be complex and vary from case to case, so here are a few broad guidelines that detail commonly asked questions when leaving a spouse.
Rights to the property after separation
If you are renting a property and both names are on the current tenancy agreement as ‘joint tenants’ you both have a right to the property. This means that should you or your partner move out, that person is legally permitted to return at any point.
Both parties are jointly and individually responsible for the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement including paying the rent. This is called joint and several liability. If, however you are named as an occupant rather than a joint tenant, the same rights do not apply and you may need to seek legal advice to protect your interests.
For owned properties, both parties named on the mortgage have a right to remain in the property (provided there are no other legal matters such as court orders which would prevent this). Both parties are responsible for paying the mortgage and other bills associated with the property regardless of whether they still reside there or not, until the property is sold or a divorce and property settlement reached.
My partner has left me, what benefits am I entitled to?
In the event that a partner leaves a spouse, certain benefits may be accessed to provide financial support, including universal credit.
The benefits you could receive depend very much on your individual circumstances and eligibility. If you are unclear about your eligibility, the Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to offer you guidance tailored to your personal situation and immediate needs.
Who gets the house in a divorce with children?
Courts usually award the family home to the partner with the primary care of any children from the relationship to help minimise the stress and disruption felt by minors. Divorce law in England and Wales prioritises the safety and wellbeing of any children from the relationship above all else. However, you must remember that the act of awarding the home to the primary caregiver does not always automatically absolve the other party of their financial responsibilities for the property. It may also be that the only option is to sell the property and share the assets.
Can you be legally separated and live in the same house?
It is legally possible to be separated and still reside in the same house, but if the relationship is strained, this can be emotionally challenging for all parties involved.
If you are still in the process of seeking a divorce, you will need to prove to the courts that you are maintaining separate lives during this period and it is not possible to seek a divorce on the grounds of adultery if it has been admitted six months or more after the act was committed.
Similarly, you cannot seek a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour and still inhabit the same property if the last incident is more than six months old.