How do I protect my interest in the family home?

What should happen to the family home is one of the key questions during a divorce. Some couples will own their home “jointly” and others as “tenants in common”.

However, there will be instances where only one spouse is the legal owner of the property. This could leave the non-owning spouse feeling vulnerable and unsure of their legal rights.

A simple and cost-effective solution to this common problem is to register a Matrimonial Home Rights Notice. This protects the non-owning spouse’s right to occupy the property and prevents their unlawful eviction. The notice is placed on the property’s legal title, making the non-owning spouse’s interest clear to any third parties. It stops the owning spouse selling, transferring or potentially mortgaging the property while the notice is in force.

The Notice can only removed with an order of the court or the consent of the spouse who benefits from the notice. An application can be made for its removal upon pronouncement of Decree Absolute (the final stage of the Divorce). 

One potential drawback to be aware of is when the home is unregistered. The majority of land in England & Wales is registered centrally with HM Land Registry, however, in rural areas, land that has been inherited or kept in the family for some time may not be. The alternative to a Home Rights Notice in this scenario would be a Class F Land Charge, which has the same effect.

Timing is everything and it is very important that a Home Rights Notice or a Land Charge is registered at the earliest opportunity to avoid a sale or unlawful eviction.

Speak to your legal experts at David Lee Solicitors for the right advice.

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