A lesser-known yet influential aspect of controlling certain elements of divorce proceedings is through ‘Home Rights Orders.’ These orders are increasingly surfacing in divorce cases, causing significant challenges for clients. In a recent case, we successfully navigated these issues, albeit with the looming threat of court action and considerable costs.

Frequently, a married couple may have the family home registered in a single name, often the husband’s, due to historical or mortgage-related reasons. While the asset’s value is typically part of the marital estate, the owner has the ability to sell the property and control interactions with the conveyancing solicitor. If the spouse is not the owner, communication with the conveyancing solicitor is often restricted, granting a level of control to the husband.

To safeguard your interests if you are not the property owner but are married, a simple application for a home rights order can be made. This involves placing a ‘restriction’ on the property title, preventing its sale until the order is released. Importantly, this application can be made without notifying your spouse, avoiding unnecessary conflict.

This process alters the power dynamics and negotiation strength for the non-owner spouse. Home Rights Orders are removed in three circumstances: by agreement, upon finalisation of the divorce, or through a court application. In contentious divorces, the agreement is unlikely, making the order a potent negotiating tool to protect your interests until the divorce’s financial aspects are settled.

A Home Rights Order is automatically lifted upon finalising the divorce (with the appropriate forms) and court applications are rare and challenging. In a recent case, our client needed funds to release significant business debts shared by both parties who were directors of the company.

In conclusion, if you are not the owner of the family home, consider protecting yourself with a Home Rights Order. It is a robust mechanism to support your negotiation position. For further discussion, contact the Fair Result team at www.fair-result.co.uk.