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Solicitors Protecting Matrimonial Property Rights -  by Ford Banks Irwin Solicitors - The Property Lawyers in Manchester

Please note: Not to be used or relied upon without legal advice. These notes are for illustrative purposes ONLY


Matrimonial Property Rights in Registered Property

All clients that need help and assistance should speak to a Solicitor or Lawyer as soon as possible.  

Family Law Act 1996
One purpose of the Family Law Act 1996 is to protect rights of occupation of a husband or wife in respect of the matrimonial home. These rights are especially important if your spouse has left you or your marriage is in danger of breaking up. The Family Law Act 1996 protects you against anyone who might acquire an interest in your matrimonial home from your spouse, such as a Purchaser, and ensures that they cannot force you out of your home.  Another purpose of the Family Law Act 1996 is to reassure potential purchasers that they can safely buy a house free from any possible matrimonial home rights, if no such rights have been registered.  The Civil Partnership Act 2004 gave a civil partner the same rights of occupation as a spouse.


When your rights commence:
If your house is, was or was intended to be a matrimonial or civil partnership home and your spouse or civil partner is entitled to live there as the sole owner then, under the Family Law Act 1996, your rights take effect as a charge on your spouse's or civil partner's interest in the house on the latest of the following dates:
*the date when your spouse or civil partner acquired the house;
*the date of your marriage or civil partnership;
*1st January 1968 (the commencement date of the Matrimonial Homes Act 1967.

Your charge will continue only while your marriage or civil partnership lasts, unless there is a Court Order to the contrary.  


Protecting your rights:
Unless you protect your rights b y registration they cannot be enforced against certain people who acquire an interest in the house, such as a Purchaser.  The method of protecting your rights will depend upon whether or not your spouse's or civil partner's ownership of the house is registered at Land Registry.  The first thing to do is to find out the nature of your spouse's or civil partner's interest.  For example, is it freehold, leasehold or a short tenancy.

The next step is to find out if your spouse's or civil partner's interest in the house is registered or unregistered.  If your spouse's or civil partner's interest with Land Registry, a notice in the register can protect your rights. If your spouse's or civil partner's ownership of the house is not registered, you can protect your rights by a Class F Land Charge at the Land Charges Department.

If you think that your spouse or civil partner is about to do something without your knowledge and consent, such as sell or mortgage the house in which you have rights, it is therefore important that you protect those rights.


The Property Interest in the Matrimonial Home
Your spouse's or civil partner's interest in the matrimonial or civil partnership home (whether or not it is mortgaged) may be the ownership of the freehold or a lesser interest, such as a Lease or a short tenancy. To protect your rights, you must first find out whether the ownership of that interest in the house is registered with Land Registry.  This is important because registration of your rights in the wrong place will not protect you. You should note that a tenancy agreement or a Lease for seven years (or less) cannot be registered at Land Registry.  Longer Leases, or freehold ownerships may be, but are not necessarily, registered there.

Each separate interest in a house is registered under a different number known as a title number.  Just because one interest in a house is registered, it does not mean that all the others are.  It is now quite common for a house to be jointly owned by the husband and the wife or civil partners, whether or not it is registered and whether or not it is mortgaged.  If this is the case, then you have rights of occupation simply through your co-ownership. In such a case, no action is needed under the Family Law Act 1996 and the following sections will not apply to you.  


How to find out whether or not your spouse's or civil
partner's Property is registered at HM Land Registry:

Property Law Solicitors and Lawyers are able to search the Land Registry records for the Title Number of the Property.  A form is submitted to HM Land Registry describing the Property and if possible attaching a plan.

The Land Registry will reply with the Title Number of the Property if registered, including any registered Lease.


What to do if the Property is registered at HM Land Registry:
Your Solicitor will post the application form to the Land Registry office which deals with the area in which the house is situated.  If the application is in order, a notice will be registered and your Solicitor will receive a letter saying that this has been done. Land Registry usually completes this sort of application within a week.

You should be aware that Land Registry will send a notice to your spouse or civil partner informing him or her that your Solicitor has made an application.


What to do if the Property is not registered at HM Land Registry:
The Land Charges Department only keeps limited records of matters affecting legal titles against he name of the current owner.  If the house is not registered, your Solicitor will apply for an entry to be made against your spouse's or civil partner's name.  If the application is in order, your Solicitor will be notified within a day or two that a Class F Land Charge has been registered against the name of your spouse or partner.

The Land Charges Department will not tell your spouse or civil partner that you have made an application.  Any subsequent search against the name of your spouse or civil partner, however would reveal the entry and so your spouse or civil partner may find out that you have protected your interest.  Anyone may search these records at any time and a search is routinely undertaken when a Property is sold.

continue on Solicitors Protecting Matrimonial Property Rights page 2 (click here):
 


 (All italics in this page are Crown Copyright and reproduced here for your information with permission from HM Land Registry)

For any further information please contact Ford Banks Irwin Solicitors.


    

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