Should I leave my home when the relationship breaks down?


This is a question often asked by clients when they initially come to see us. It is of importance and the pros and cons must be weighed up. The answer will ultimately be whatever is in yours (and children’s’) best interests. However, this varies for each family.

Most often our homes comprise of more than bricks and mortar. There is an emotional as well as practical consequence of leaving the home, if at all. Particularly if there are children then decisions must be made in the interim in respect of who the children will remain living with (who will be their primary carer) and what time the other parent will spend with them. It is best to have discussions with each other early on and before leaving the home.

Financial implicationsThere can also be financial impacts. If you have a mortgage or tenancy agreement whether jointly or singularly then you will remain liable for paying that mortgage/rent by the mortgage provider/landlord.
It is important to agree who will be responsible for all bills and liabilities but there will still be a financial liability there and should your ex-partner default on payments then your credit rating can be impacted, and at worse enforcement proceedings may be issued against you, even if you no longer live in the home.
Furthermore, if you move out you need to consider whether you can afford to rent or buy elsewhere as well as cover your liabilities in the family home, if needed. It is often a difficult task separate the finances of one household into two.

Matrimonial asset

If you are both married then generally speaking the family home will be considered a matrimonial asset, regardless of legal ownership. This means that the family home will form part of the ‘matrimonial pot’ for division in the overall financial settlement.

Even if the property is in your own name your ex-spouse (or civil partner) can register a Home Rights Notice with the Land Registry. This will then prevent a sale or re-mortgage of the property by the owner whilst the notice is in place.

Even if you and your ex-partner are not married you may have a claim in respect of your interest in the home. It is important to note that unmarried couples do not have the same rights or protection as married couples. More advice will need to be sought.


In short, there are many considerations including affordability, impact on children, impact on mental health and wellbeing, and impact on finances and financial claims. It is important to have a clear planed approach and to understand the legal implications of leaving the family home.

It is therefore important to seek independent advice at an early stage so that you can go through your options in detail. 

More information

To arrange a free telephone consultation please fill in the contact form on this page or email us at or contact us on 01708 229444 (Upminster Office), 01277 211755 (Brentwood Office) or 01708 511000 (Hornchurch Office)

This article was written by Remyhs Baker, Solicitor in the Family Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of August 2020.


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