When a marriage breaks down the first question that I am often asked is “Can I get Divorced?” followed by the title of this blog “The family home belongs to my husband can I claim half of it?”. It is a fairly simple straight forward question, however the answer is far from a simple and straight forward Yes or No.
The first thing that you need to be aware of, before reading any further, is that you should register a Matrimonial Home Rights Restriction upon the family home, if it is held in the sole name of your spouse. This can be done by contacting a Solicitor or alternatively registering this yourself with the Land Registry, if your register it yourself then there would be no fee, if you instruct a Solicitor there would be a minimal fee for this, in addition you would receive advice about how a restriction works in practice.
Going back to the question about whether you can claim half of the property, then there are a number of factors that need to be considered:-
- The age of you and your spouse;
- Where you are both currently living;
- If there are any children of the family, how old they are and with whom they are living;
- The number of years you have been married;
- The amount yourself and your spouse earn per annum, and contributions you have each made to the family;
- If either of you are disabled or a child of the family are disabled;
- Any pension benefit that you or your spouse has accumulated.
There are a few other considerations, the above is a summary of the factors which must be considered. The usual staring place for a Court, and therefore should be a starting place for individuals, is that the matrimonial assets may be split 50/50 even if the assets are held in a husband or wife’s’ sole name. The increase/decrease from the 50/50 split will depend upon the above factors.
Example:- if the Wife is living in the family home with 3 young children and there is very limited income in the family pot then the Court can increase the share to the wife and decrease the share to the husband, in addition the Court can order a deferred charge, which would mean that the husband cannot realise his share until the youngest child completes secondary or further education.
Each case turn on its own facts, it is helpful to be aware that the Court does give primary consideration to the needs of the children and what is in their best interests.
In essence the answer to the question is that Yes you could have a claim, yet the pros and cons of your potential claim should be discussed with a Solicitor before making an y application to the Court.
Please note that at Sultan Lloyd, we only suggest a Court Application as the last possible solution, it is always best to try and resolve matters as amicably as possible especially where children are involved, we therefore use negotiating techniques, referrals to mediation, and finally Court Applications. There are also other options available including collaborative law and arbitration.