How Is A House Divided In A Divorce UK?

Written by Millie Archer

I love all things property and have a real eye for detail. I’m always reading up on property news, whether it be renting a first property or buying a mansion.

Answering all your divorce house questions, including how is a house divided in a divorce...


According to Crisp and Co solicitors, 42% of marriages end in divorce. This is a sad statistic, something that no one ever wants to imagine happening to them as going through a divorce is stressful and upsetting.

There are so many things to think about, let alone how you will be feeling. You may have kids or pets you need to think about. You may have investments you need to think about. It’s also likely you will have a house that you need to think about.

‘Who looks after the joint pet? Who gets the house in a divorce with children? How is a house divided in a divorce?’ are all questions that will be running through your mind, adding to the stress and strain.

We’re here to help ease your mind as much as possible and guide you through all the complications of divorcing from your partner with a house stuck in the middle.

To get your answer to a specific question, this menu will help to guide you:

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How is equity split in a divorce?

The starting point for equity split in a divorce is 50:50. The intentions are split everything accumulated in the marriage down the middle and both parties walk off with 50% of the assets. However, the reality is actually very different and will depend on each individual case.

Matrimonial assets are those which are ‘built up’ during the marriage and can be described as the ‘financial product’ of the marriage. Generally, the biggest matrimonial assets are the marital home and the pension.

The court will decide how the matrimonial assets are split in a divorce and they have a duty to try provide both parties independence from each other, as soon as possible.

When splitting matrimonial assets, the court has several aspects they must take into consideration. These are:

  1. Income/earning capacity
  2. Financial needs
  3. Standard of living enjoyed before marriage breakdown
  4. Age
  5. Physical or mental disability
  6. Contributions made or likely to be made to future welfare of family
  7. Conduct of each party
  8. Any benefit a party may lose the chance to acquire (for example, a pension)

If you want to read more about the conditions and considerations, this article may interest you.

How is a house divided in a divorce UK?

One thing to remember when worryingly thinking ‘how is a house divided in a divorce’, is even if only one partner in the marriage bought the house, if it was lived in as the marital home then it will be considered a matrimonial asset and therefore both parties have a right to some of the asset. The court will decide how the house should be split, which unfortunately may not be 50:50.

Just because you’re getting a divorce, doesn’t mean you will be forced out the house or forced to sell the house. We’re going to touch on this in more detail later, so keep your eyes peeled…

Who gets to stay in the house during separation?

During the divorce process, both parties both have legal and equal rights to stay in the property. The likelihood is, however, that both parties won’t want to stay in the house together.

The ideal outcome is both parties can come up with a separation agreement, which is a verbal agreement where you decide how to live before the court makes the official decision on how to split the matrimonial assets.

This means who gets to stay in the house during separation is up to you and your partner to decide. It’s worth remembering that if you move out of the marital home during separation, you do not forfeit any of your rights of ownership to the property.

Having said this, if you do move out of the marital home and it is owned by your ex-partner, it’s important that you remain in the home until you have registered a ‘Home Rights Notice’. This will give rights of occupation under the Family Law Act 1996, with the main aim of this act being to protect the right of a spouse/civil partner to occupy the home.

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Can a wife kick husband out of house?

Until the court comes to a permanent arrangement and a financial settlement is made, both spouses have what is known as ‘home rights’. This means unless there’s domestic violence or a court order, then no, a wife can’t kick the husband out of the house, and vice versa.

Home rights are the rights to the family home, which will apply to both parties in a divorce, meaning neither partner can force or ‘kick out’ the other partner.

Divorce house rights will give you the right to:

  • Stay in the home unless a court order specifically excludes you from being there
  • Ask the court to allow you to return home if you moved out
  • Register your home rights with the Land Registry as a ‘charge’ on the property – this means it can’t be sold, transferred or have a mortgage taken out on it without your knowledge *relief*
  • Pay the mortgage if the person named on the mortgage stops making payments
  • Be aware of any repossession action taken by your mortgage lender
  • Apply to be 'joined in' on any mortgage possession proceedings taken by the lender

Who gets the house in a divorce with children?

When getting a divorce with children involved, naturally the primary concern is for their welfare and keeping them in the marital home, if possible, to minimise the stress and disruption to them.

Who gets the house in a divorce with children should be decided between the parents. If they’re unable to come to an agreement, the court will make the ruling for the duration of the divorce and will be in accordance with the children’s needs and welfare, especially if the children are under 18.

The court can make Property Adjustment Orders, which details what will happen with the house after the divorce process. The order will be decided upon with the children’s best interests in mind and these orders are:

  • Immediate sale of the property - If it’s beneficial to just get the house sold, allowing the parties to go their separate ways and the children are not at a crucial stage in education, then the court will rule for the house to be sold immediately. This may be the most beneficial way, depending on circumstances, as it allows both parties to get money out of their biggest matrimonial asset and go their separate ways
  • Deferred sale of property - If it’s more beneficial to keep the house in a joint name until a certain point, the court will rule a deferred sale of the property. This type of order is most common with children and the deferred sale will be based upon the children reaching a certain age or educational milestone, for example after the last child has finished their A levels
  • Transfer of property to one party's name with 'legal charge back' for the other party - This will mean the owner who transfers the property will become a charge holder and will receive their share when the charge is enforceable, for example when the property is sold. This method is similar to a deferred sale, but instead of the property being in both parties’ names, it will be under one name
  • One party 'buys out' the other for a lump sum - This will mean the party who paid the lump sum will have the property just in their name. However, there are complications with this method. For example, it can be difficult to establish what the lump sum should be, and may not be suitable depending on how much the party staying in the house can raise for a mortgage and how much the other party may need for a deposit on a new house. This method is known as a divorce house buyout

Can you get divorced and still own your house together?

In short, yes, it’s completely possible to get divorced and still own your house together. This isn’t to say that this comes without its complications…

Firstly, if you own the property as joint tenants, you will need to swap to tenants in common and confirm this with your mortgage provider. Tenants in common is created for those who own a house together but don’t have a relationship. If you’re unsure about joint tenants or tenants in common, we have an article here which will tell you everything you need to know.

Another complication of getting divorced and still owning a house together is you will need to obtain a legally binding consent order, detailing who owns what percentage of the property, who is paying for what in terms of mortgage, bills and outgoings and also what the trigger events are that will mean the property is sold.

Still owning a house together after a divorce will also mean that you’re not independent from one another and are still relying on them to pay their agreed mortgage payments. If one party is to faulter on the mortgage repayments, there will be a negative impact on both of the parties’ credit ratings.

However, owning a house together after divorce could be a good way for the parent with primary care of the children to keep the marital home, without having to afford to buy out the other partner.

Will I have to sell my home if I divorce?

Unless the court decides an immediate sale of the property is required, you will not be forced to sell your house just because you are getting a divorce, but it may make the process slightly easier.

Even if your partner has agreed to co-ownership after the divorce, they could change their mind at any point and stop paying the mortgage, likely leading to the property needing to be sold anyway, to cover the debt.

Selling a house before a divorce may also help to simplify the process, as it just means one less problem for the court to overcome.

Most divorces end in a non-civil manner and living in a house you used to own with your ex-partner may just bring back bad memories, encouraging you to sell the house, split the money and go your separate ways.

It may also be an advantage to sell your house fast, as it allows you to quickly move on with your new life and not drag out the pain of divorce for longer. If this is something that appeals to you, we’re about to tell you a few ways you can sell your house and which methods will mean a faster sale…

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How to sell a house during divorce

When it comes to selling a house, you have a few different routes to go down and we’re here to help you decide which road is best for you!

Estate Agent - When you think of selling your home, enlisting the help of an estate agent is probably the first method which comes to mind. An estate agent will view your house and give you a valuation they feel it’s worth. If you agree, your property will then be put on the market, with the valuation now called the ‘asking price’. Once the property is advertised, interested parties will then arrange viewings and, should they be interested, will place an offer.

There is no guarantee any offer placed will be near the asking price and there’s equally no guarantee the offer will materialise into a sale. This is because offers placed on your property will be subject to a survey and, should there be any issues with your property, a potential buyer may reduce their offer or withdraw it completely.

Selling through an estate agent may not be the most ideal method if you’re trying to sell a house during a divorce. Firstly, you will have multiple viewings which may be difficult to arrange if you’re not in a civil situation with the other party.

Also, selling a house through the open market isn’t a fast process, which can take months, sometimes years. If you’re wanting to sell your house fast so you can cut ties and move on, the ‘estate agent route’ may not be the most suitable for you.

Part Exchange - A part exchange scheme is where you trade the value of your current house against a new build property, with your property acting as a ‘part payment’ for a new build. A part exchange scheme can be generally good if you’re wanting a quick house sale, as it means a guaranteed sale of your property and no chain.

But if you’re selling a house due to divorce it’s more than likely you don’t want another house in exchange and so this method will probably not be suited to you this time.

Auction - If a nasty divorce has left you wanting a fast house sale, then auction may be something to consider.

At the auction you will get serious buyers who will likely have their finances in place, as when the hammer goes down on a deal, contracts are exchanged, and a 10% deposit is placed. The buyer then has 20 to 28 days to complete, helping you sell your house quickly.

You’re also less likely to get time wasters, as people at auction are there because they’re serious about buying. You’re also unlikely to get ‘gazundered’, which is where a buyer suddenly drops their price after it has been agreed. There’s also demand from multiple buyers at auction, which may help drive up the price.

Although auction has its strengths, it also has its downsides. Even at auction, buyers can and do pull out of the sale, forfeiting their deposit, meaning no sale is guaranteed. You will also have to have several open days for your house to allow potential buyers to look round. In a divorce where you may already be disagreeing, arranging multiple open days is only going to add to the stress.

Also, you have to cover your own legal fees and pay a commission of the sold price to the auctioneer and pay for advertising and marketing costs, as well as room hire. The price your house sells at, at auction, can also be significantly below the ‘market price’. The buying of your property will also be subject to a survey, once again meaning there’s no guaranteed buyer.

Selling at auction can take between 6-10 weeks, dragging out the divorce process longer, meaning there’s no guarantee you will get a quick house sale if that’s what you’re hoping for.

Quick House Sale Companies - Another option to help you quickly escape the difficulties of selling a house in divorce is to sell your house to a ‘quick house sale’ company. As the name suggests, they specialise in helping you sell your house quickly.

Quick House Sale companies will give you a cash offer for your property, which is a guaranteed price and therefore means you have a guaranteed buyer. Guaranteed buyer = guaranteed sale of divorce home = independence from your ex-partner.

Another bonus is your legal fees will be covered by the company and you don’t have to pay any commissions or other fees. You also won’t get ‘gazundered’, as the price you’re offered by the company is a guaranteed price.

Unlike on the open market and at auction, selling with a quick house sale company only involves one quick house viewing, which can be arranged for a date and time to suit you (and your ex-partner).

The offer you are given will also be a CASH offer, which may be slightly below market value, but can be in your bank in as little as 7 days!

If this sounds like the option for you, then we may just be able to help…

Here at The Property Buying Company, we’re a cash buyer of houses, buying any property in any condition, in as little as 7 days, all whilst covering your legal fees!

Our offer isn’t subject to a survey, so don’t worry if your house isn’t in its best shape. We only require one quick viewing to make sure our offer is accurate, which we can arrange at a date and time which suits you both, helping you to avoid any conflict.

We can also act as a mediator if you aren't on good terms.

We have over 50 years’ combined experience in the industry and countless good reviews on trust pilot (feel free to check them out), meaning we really are a 'sell house fast' company you can trust.

Give us a call or fill in our online form today to receive a no-obligation cash offer, helping you sell your house and get independence FAST!

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