Family Law: Can I Buy a House If I’m Married but Separated?

Written by Eric · 3 min read >
Can I Buy a House If I’m Married but Separated

Everyone usually knows what matrimonial home rights are and what they mean. They are basically the rights you would have to live in your home after marriage, even if the house is in the husband’s or wife’s name. However, it is important to know that for those who aren’t married and aren’t in a civil partnership; then this doesn’t apply to them.

What are home rights?

According to the law, if one spouse owns the family home and the other spouse doesn’t, then the other spouse will still have rights over the house. This includes rights like living there and not being forced to leave the house unless there is an occupation order.

An occupation order is an order which sets out the law and states who can live in the family house and who is allowed to enter the family home.

Can you buy a house after being separated?

Before answering this question, it is important to understand that the laws and regulations of a specific place affect this answer as well. For e.g., in North Caroline, there is a 12 months waiting period before the divorce in which a couple is separated.

During that time period, the spouse can either choose to stay in the marital house, or the other might move out. At the time of the divorce, the asset division takes place, and a fair splitting of the value of the marital house takes place.

Some couples might decide to sell the marital home and then split the net proceeds accordingly, or some might choose to buy out the other spouse. It isn’t very common for a spouse to leave the house and purchase his/her own residence while deciding what to do with a marital house.

As separated couples are still considered married, their options of buying real property might call for some sort of paper agreement or contract.

Living arrangements for separated couples

During the separation period, there is obviously a need for two homes, as most couples don’t prefer living together, especially if there are a few months before the divorce finalizes. Renting an apartment instead of buying a house might be easier for the spouse and less complicated.

However, if one of the spouses decides to buy a second home, it will create legal and financial issues as well. As the couple is still legally married, before buying a second house, these things need to be given a thought:

  •         Effect of the purchase on the marital estate
  •         If legal ownership is established in one of the spouse’s name
  •         Financing and owning the house with no inclusion or involvement of the spouse.

In addition to all of this, a separated couple still being married means that home rights should be registered.

It is important to understand that property business and splitting of assets can be extremely tricky, because of which there is a major requirement of a Family Lawyer in Traverse City. Through the help of family lawyers, you can gather more knowledge about family law, cases and issues and come up with a plan to not lose out on your share of the property. In case of buying a house when you’re separated, a family lawyer can be of great help.

Importance of registering home rights

Through registering the home rights, your house would need legal documents for the home, which means that people and other organizations, e.g., the banks and land registry, will know whether you have home rights or not.

It obviously means that your spouse isn’t legally allowed to sell or mortgage the property without you being aware of it. In case one does not register for home rights, the spouse could sell the mortgage without you knowing, which means you might be forced to leave the property. Moreover, it restricts the claims for finances on divorce as well.

How to register for matrimonial home rights?

There are different procedures that one can follow for registered and unregistered properly, especially when applying to the home rights.

Can home rights be registered against more than one property? Home rights can only be registered one at a time, and they can only be registered against the family home.

Other properties

If you feel like your spouse will sell or mortgage a holiday house, other property, or even an investment property, then there are a few things you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First of all, make sure you speak to a lawyer urgently and make sure you talk to him/her about putting up a restriction on the property or even getting an injunction to stop the spouse from selling the house. Read more about How can you choose a reliable assault lawyer?

Spouse’s consent to register home rights

It is important to know that spouses won’t be asked to provide any consent when you register for the home rights.

Important property rights to be aware of if you’re married but separated

When you buy a house as a couple, and the property deeds are in the name of both of the spouses, then that means you are joint owners. This is known as joint tenancy. Both the spouses can agree to the following:

  •       Selling the property and then splitting the proceeds, i.e., the money after the payment of the outstanding mortgage.
  •       Buying out the partner’s share of the property so that you become the sole owner. In the case of a mortgage on the house, there will be the need for an agreement from the bank.


Conclusively, family law and family laws regarding properties can be a rather tricky business. Hence, it is important to make sure that you have all the knowledge you can, especially about the complications that might arise after you get separated.

Buying a house when you’re separated tends to be trickier than renting an apartment or a house. This is because, even if you are separated, you’re still legally married in the eyes of the law. There is a proper procedure and splitting of assets that are to be followed in this case to make sure everything is fair.

Hiring a family lawyer to help you through such a process can be easier for everyone involved. If you’re in a state where the divorce requires a few months of separation, then it can be harder to consider yourself unmarried and make such purchases,  but lawyers can help find ways around that.

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