What are my rights if my name is not on the mortgage but I'm married?

Married couples are automatically entitled to most of their spouse's assets, including their home. Therefore, you still have some rights over the home if you are married and your name is not on the mortgage. You can apply for a Matrimonial Home Rights Notice with the land registry, which will give you some occupation rights.

What is a Matrimonial Home Rights Notice?

A Matrimonial Home Rights Notice is a document that confirms your right to live in a home your spouse owns. Although a Matrimonial Home Rights Notice will give you some occupation rights, it will not give you any right of ownership over the property. The effect of home rights is that your spouse cannot force you to leave the family house, and your spouse cannot sell or remortgage the house without your consent. 

However, you can only register your home rights for one property, which must be the family home or the property you and your spouse intended to live in during your marriage. So, you cannot register home rights for a house you did not live in or plan to live in as a couple. 

One thing to note is that you cannot register your home rights if your family home is owned by your spouse and someone else. 

Home owned by a spouse before marriage

In most cases, a home a person owns or purchases before marriage is usually considered their distinct property. This is called a non-matrimonial asset. However, a spouse may have some right over the home of the other spouse purchased before marriage, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Where one spouse purchased a home before marriage, and both parties have been living in it after marriage, the home will be considered a matrimonial asset. This is because, for the duration of your marriage, both of you may have shared the expenses of the house, for example, expenses towards the improvement of the home. 

If during a divorce, one spouse can demonstrate that they cannot meet their needs without the proceeds from the sale of the property, the court may consider the home in the name of the other spouse a matrimonial asset for instance.

Although a house that is only in the name of one spouse could be treated as a matrimonial asset, it may not necessarily be divided equally. This means that you might get some money from the sale of the house, but you might not get exactly half of the proceeds if your name is not on the mortgage.

What should you do before moving in together?

Cohabiting couples do not enjoy the same rights as married couples. As such, you should think about getting a Cohabitation Agreement or a Declaration of Trust if you are moving into a property that is solely owned by someone you are not married to. 

A cohabitation agreement can help to determine how shared properties will be divided in the unlikely event that the relationship fails. A cohabitation agreement may also include a declaration from the partner who does not own the property, stating that they will not acquire any financial interest in the home regardless of their payments or contributions.

How can GloverPriest help?

At GloverPriest, we specialise in helping families and cohabiting partners. For friendly and transparent advice, speak to one of our expert family lawyers today. Complete our enquiry form.

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At GloverPriest, we understand navigating the law can be a difficult task to take on alone. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide to help promote information for everyone to use.

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