Who Gets the House in a Divorce

Who gets the house in a divorce can be one of the more emotionally charged issues to sort out, with significant financial and practical implications for each spouse’s future and any children. Understanding your rights and the likely outcomes can help to set your expectations and allow you to go into your divorce more prepared.

Exactly how the house is divided in divorce will depend on the specific circumstances and it is essential to get specialist legal advice on this as early as possible. While the following should not be taken as specific legal advice, we hope to give some insight into the key issues to consider.

What are your property rights during divorce?

Your property rights during divorce will depend on the situation. If both of your names are on the property title, then the default starting position is a 50:50 share of the equity, but this does not necessarily mean that this is what you will end up with in practice. If your name is not on the property title, you may still be entitled to a share, depending on whether the property is considered a matrimonial asset.

It is always sensible to speak to a lawyer before divorce proceedings are initiated to make sure you are clear on your financial rights, including with regard to your home.


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How is a house split in divorce?

The most common options for dealing with a house during divorce are:

  • The house is sold and the proceeds split between the separating spouses (not necessarily a 50:50 split)
  • One partner keeps the house and the other gives up their share (either in exchange for a lump sum or for a greater share of other assets)
  • The spouses agree that the house will be sold, but this is deferred until a specific event takes place (commonly when the couple’s children leave home) – this should be formalised with a court order, such as a Mesher Order

What happens to the house in a divorce with children?

In any divorce with kids, it is worth remembering that a court would always put their needs first. Even if you are aiming to reach an amicable settlement, you should keep this in mind to make sure your expectations are reasonable.

Exactly what is in the best interests of your children will depend on the situation, but in many cases, this will mean finding a way for them to stay in the family home. When navigating a divorce with children, parents will often want to minimise the disruption to their children’s lives, so making them move home is often not desirable.

If one parent is the primary caregiver, it may make sense for them to stay in the family home with the children. This could mean the house is transferred into their name (perhaps in exchange for giving up their rights to other assets). Alternatively, it might be agreed that the house will be sold, but that this sale will be deferred until the children have left home.

Splitting up when you have kids involved can make divorce much more complicated, so expert advice is strongly recommended.

How do you decide who gets the house if you divorce?

If you divorce, who gets the house can be decided in a number of different ways, but broadly, you will either be able to reach an agreement voluntarily with your former spouse or you will need to apply to a court to decide for you. Generally, it will be much faster and involve significantly lower legal fees if you can agree on what happens to the house of your own accord.

To decide what happens to the house between you, there are various methods you can use. In some cases, a separating couple can simply agree between themselves what should happen, while in other cases, a little extra help may be needed. One of the most common methods is mediation, which involves both spouses meeting with a trained, neutral mediator who will help to facilitate an agreement.

One thing to note is that, if you do reach an agreement voluntarily, it is still advisable to make this legally binding by applying to a court for a Consent Order. This formalises the terms of your agreement, minimising the risk of any later dispute. You should also apply for a Clean Break Order at this time, which prevents either spouse from making a claim against the other’s assets in future.

Should you be unable to agree on how to deal with the house or other assets, you may need to apply to a court for a Financial Order setting out what should happen. The court will look at factors such as the income and earning capacity of each party, their respective financial needs, obligations and responsibilities, and the contribution each party made to the marriage (both financial and non-financial).

How our experts can help

At JCP Solicitors, our family lawyers work with clients across England and Wales, offering high level expertise on all financial matters during separation, including who keeps the house in a divorce. Whether you are seeking an amicable solution or need more robust representation, we can guide and support you towards an outcome that meets your needs and those of your loved ones.

You can be assured of the quality of our service, thanks to our independent accreditation from the Law Society for Family Law Advanced and Children Law. Our team also includes members of Resolution, the leading UK network for family lawyers with an emphasis on collaborative, non-confrontational approaches to family law.

Whether your situation is relatively straightforward or more challenging, we have the expertise and well-practised skills to help you find the best way forward.

Contact us about splitting the house in a divorce

To discuss how the house can be divided in a divorce, please contact your local JCP Solicitors office or use our contact form to ask a quick question or arrange a call back.