Housing issues after separation

The risk of losing your home, and uncertainty about where you will live, are major worries when a relationship is ending.

One short-term option is to carry on living together until you’re ready to physically separate. Many couples find this breathing space useful to find out more about their options before making any big decisions. Although this arrangement can put quite a strain on a separating couple, it can give children a chance to get used to the idea of a separation while both parents are available to answer questions.

If you want to leave the home quickly, speak to family or friends who may be able to offer you a place to stay. If you are at risk of violence or abuse and need to leave immediately, you can contact a support organisation like Domestic Violence HelplineWomen's Aid or Refuge. Alternatively, you can go to your local council for advice.

Longer-term options will depend on things like whether you rent or own your home; whether the children will be living with you; your financial situation; and what your rights are. You can check how these factors affect your personal situation at gov.uk.

Broadly speaking, your options are:

  1. You stay in the house and your partner moves out.
  2. Your partner stays in the house and you move out.
  3. You both leave and find two new places to live.
  4. One of you moves out, but keeps the option of returning later.

If you own your home, it doesn’t necessarily have to be sold when you separate, and the person whose name is on the tenancy agreement doesn't necessarily have to be the person who stays there.

Understanding your legal position and the financial consequences of any decisions you make will be an important part of the negotiations with your partner.  A family mediator or family solicitor can help you take a realistic look at the options before you decide on the best option for your family.

You can find information about your legal rights online at Shelter or gov.uk. You can also speak to someone at Citizen’s Advice, or contact a solicitor who can help make sure you understand your rights around the family home. 

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