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Do I have a claim on a property owned by my spouse before we married?


Claire Holland, Josiah Hincks’ Family lawyer in Blaby writes here about potential claims on property owned before marriage. This article is not intended to reflect advice and no reliance should be placed on it. You should seek legal advice based on your situation.

When a married couple separate, all the matrimonial assets will need to be identified and valued before any settlement proposals can be considered. Often the largest asset is the family home and this will certainly have to be considered irrespective of who legally owns it.   The Court has the power to make orders against matrimonial assets regardless of how they are owned and by whom; the overriding concern of the Court is the welfare of any dependant child, and this will be the main factor in determining how the assets are split.  Your spouse may argue that the property is non-matrimonial, having been purchased prior to the marriage, but even if you are not named as a legal owner of the property on the title deeds (this can be established by your solicitor making enquiries of the Land Registry), you may have acquired a beneficial interest.  Further, by virtue of being married, you continue to have a legal right of occupation.

If you are not a legal owner you should instruct your solicitor to act quickly and register your interest by entering a Home Rights Notice at the Land Registry. This will help to protect your interest by making it difficult for your spouse to sell or remortgage the property without your knowledge.

If you have been entered on the title deeds during the course of the marriage as a co-owner it is important to ascertain how the title is held by each of you.  There are two ways of legally owning property: as joint tenants; or as tenants in common. If you own the property as joint tenants, then your share of the property will automatically pass to your spouse.  In the event of separation, many spouses do not wish their share to pass automatically to their spouse and there is a simple process to change the ownership to Tenants in Common which your solicitor will guide you through. If you do take this step, please note that it is also imperative to update your Will to ensure that the property then passes to your named beneficiaries.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Claire Holland is an experienced Family Lawyer based in Blaby. She qualified as a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives in 2009.[/author_info] [/author] By Claire Holland – Chartered Legal Executive and Family Law Specialist Josiah Hincks Solicitors, Blaby Branch Office