Separation and the Family Home
If you’re separating from your partner, you may be worried about what happens to the family home. At Watermans, a separation lawyer will be able to explain your options and guide you through the legal process.
The Long of it
Separation and the family home
Are you worried about what will happen to your family home?
If you are separating from your partner, one of the main things on your mind may well be the family home and living arrangements.
In the short term you may disagree on who is going to stay in the house; in the longer term, the house will need to be dealt with as part of the overall financial settlement.
Who stays and who moves out is often a pragmatic question depending on income, affordability, who has primary care of children, and the availability of other accommodation. If you can’t work this out between you, it’s important to take legal advice before you decide to move out. Depending on the circumstances, one of you may be able to ask the court to make orders about the occupation of the home. It’s better to find out what your options are beforehand.
In the longer term, what happens to the house will depend on your individual circumstances. The legal framework is different for married and cohabiting couples. Some of the things likely to be taken into account are when the property was purchased, in whose name, where the deposit money came from and who has been paying the mortgage. If one of you wants to buy the other out, you’ll need the lender’s approval even if both of you agree on this.
A specialist family lawyer can work through all the options with you. Most couples can reach an agreement that suits them both but if that isn’t possible you can ask the court to make orders (e.g. to sell the house).
Once you have an agreement or a court order, Watermans can take you through the next stages of the process with the help of our property sales and conveyancing teams.
Mortgage and council tax
Who pays the mortgage and council tax for the family home?
When you are separating from your partner, the family home is one of the most important assets that you share that needs to be looked after. If one or both of you moves out, you may question who must continue paying the rent/mortgage and council tax.
Splitting up brings financial pressures for most families, but it’s still important to keep paying the rent/mortgage and council tax to avoid debt recovery action. If these bills are in joint names, and even if you have agreed that your partner will pay them, you should still keep an eye on this. If they don’t pay, creditors can come after both of you even though you’ve separated.
Your first meeting with us
Coming to see a family lawyer can be a bit daunting – this is what to expect from your first meeting
It’s normal to be a bit nervous before your first meeting with a family lawyer – and even if you feel confident, it doesn’t do any harm to know what to expect.
The process starts when you first get in touch. We can normally offer a fixed fee for an initial consultation with one of our specialist family lawyers, payable on the day of the meeting. We will agree this fee with you before we go any further. We will also need to check we haven’t acted for anyone else involved in the dispute (they won’t know we have done this).
If that’s all OK, we will then send you a link to a secure online verification system to carry out some compliance checks required by law. We will also ask you to fill out a short questionnaire collecting basic information such as the dates of marriage and separation. This saves time during our meeting and means we can get straight to the point.
If you’re being taken to court, we’ll usually ask you to scan the court papers over to us in advance. You may have received a solicitors’ letter and if so, it helps if we can see this beforehand too.
It’s a good idea to think through beforehand what questions you have and what you want to achieve from the meeting. For example, do you have any thoughts about how you’d like to resolve issues about your family home? What would a good outcome look like to you? What are your priorities? It’s OK if you don’t have answers yet, but it’s worth starting to reflect on this.
The meeting itself will be over secure video link or in person, with one of our specialist family lawyers. It’s unlikely we can resolve everything in a single session, but our goal is for you to come away knowing how the law applies to your situation, the options for sorting things out, and roughly what that might cost in legal fees. You can then make informed decisions about what to do next.
Please do not worry about getting emotional or not knowing exactly what to say. Family disputes are very personal, and many people find it upsetting to talk about them. We understand and we won’t judge. And just to be clear, everything you tell us is completely confidential.
What happens after the meeting is up to you. We won’t take any action in your case or contact anyone else involved unless you tell us to do so.
If you have any questions about consulting a family lawyer or want to discuss a first meeting, please get in touch.
Why should I choose Watermans as my family lawyer?
Our family law team at Watermans have your best interests at heart, as well as the knowledge and expertise needed to carry out these family law services. We offer Straightforward legal advice, and help you every step of the way.
We’re experts in family law and we know our stuff – but we’re also normal people you can have a real conversation with. We don’t use legal jargon (or Latin), we give straightforward advice, and we won’t judge or patronise you. Coming from a range of backgrounds and with our own life experiences to draw on, we understand and empathise with how stressful family disputes can be.
We know how important it is to trust your lawyer and that you need to know we’re in your corner. Our aim is to work in partnership with you to help resolve things quickly and cost-effectively so you can move forward with your life.
Get in touch with us
Everything we do at Watermans is about getting you the resolution you need and making that process straightforward. Start the process by sending us your details below or calling us on 0131 555 7055
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Our Family Law expert
“People often say to me that family law must be a depressing job – but I’ve never felt that. What we do makes a difference. I love working with my clients to understand their stories, help them work out where they want to get to, and collaborate with them to achieve their goals. Seeing people come through it and embark on a new stage of their lives is a great feeling.”
Dianne Millen, Head of Family Law