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Living in the house when separated from your partner



Living in the house when separated from your partner can have many legal and practical difficulties in the experience of Cheshire family law solicitors Stonehewer Moss.  Living in the house when separated from your partner might be faced in the scenario of separation with a view to divorce or if you were not married but the legal aspects are determined by that relationship and the way the title to the house is owned. According to Michael Brennan, the family law solicitor at the Northwich firm, there is often uncertainty when separating about your legal right to occupy or live in the house in the short  term and the longer term ownership issues. Michael says, “The statutes that apply to the occupation issue have changed over the 25 years of my practice, with conduct that is the subject of court order broadening so that any assumption that only violent men are excluded from living in a house owned by him is wrong; today the court in appropriate cases looks at emotional pressure, coercion, and control if it impacts on health. Orders of the court about the right to live in a house are separate from orders about personal conduct called non molestation orders but they are both injunctions and breach of the order a contempt and sometimes an arrestable crime. Occupation orders are governed by Part 4 of the Family Law Act 1996 and cover a range of property ownership situations from rent to absolute ownership. The test applied changes according to the title owned but if you live with a person in a house it is likely one of the tests within the statute apply and may justify the Court ordering that the right to live in the house, even by the sole owner, be limited or excluded for a period of time. Commonly I have received instructions in the past that a spouse or partner has ordered the other person out on the basis it is “my house” as he pays the mortgage. That is not a divine rule and is likely to be mistaken. A firm but polite letter from your solicitor and follow up visit to the police if ignored may suffice. Court orders are considered draconian but that is not to say an owner has a free hand to treat the other person badly and  the court will intervene if needed. Costs of such applications can be £4000 plus and the court can order a losing party to pay the winners costs. Often the making of such emergency applications can sour future negotiation and cause stress, so you need to weigh up the issues before taking action. Be wary of a lawyer that advises you to change locks as usually that is unlawful if the other person has a right to occupy and in divorce could have cost consequences; generally, I suggest you leave the solicitors office politely but without hesitation if you hear advice to change locks or other game play. Legal Aid can be available for some in domestic violence situations from legal aid solicitors.”

Living in the house when separated from your partner has legal consequences but emotional factors could need support from friends and professionals other than lawyers. Knowing your legal rights is a good first step, particularly if your ex has appointed himself a lawyer/ judge in his own cause with you.

For advice negotiation and representation in property disputes on separation in Cheshire please call 01606 872200 e mail visit

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