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I don't want you in the house - especially not for Christmas

View profile for Greg Cross
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It is always very difficult when a relationship comes to an end, whatever the reason may be. There are so many issues to consider; property, children, money, business interests and assets.

Very often couples are forced to continue living together for a whole host of reasons; unwillingness to move, be away from the children, finances. Sometimes what is needed more than anything is some space, and in the heat of a separation or marital breakdown, when it’s all still very raw, nobody wants to give an inch. There are family law options available to those in this situation and help can be found through the family courts.

If you are married/in a civil partnership or in a relationship with someone and you are entitled to occupy the property you reside in because you have a legal or beneficial interest or because of your marriage/civil partnership, you can apply to the courts for what is known as an “occupation order”. It is a family court order regulating occupation of the property.

If the other person won’t leave, you can ask the court to determine that issue. If your house/property is big enough, you can ask the court to set out clear rules on who is to live where and when within the same household. The court might also order that one of you can live in the property at certain times to the exclusion of the other, and then allow the other person to essentially swap with you at certain times; a “nesting” arrangement.

There are a whole host of options and range of orders available to the court if you can’t agree or reach a compromise. This is generally seen as a short-term solution, six months plus, as if the relationship is sadly truly at an end, the long term issues in terms of what to do with the house will need to be looked at through divorce or formal separation.

The court will have to weigh up all the circumstances to make a decision. It will consider yours and any children’s housing needs. It will take account of your personal financial circumstances and that of the other person, including the ability to house elsewhere in the meantime from a cost perspective. It will consider your housing options; do you have friends or family nearby that can adequately accommodate you and any relevant children. It will also look at the impact on you and on any relevant children of any order being made, or not making an order. It must finely balance between you the impact of the court regulating occupation of the home. It will also consider how you have behaved towards one another in taking account of all the circumstances to decide.

If it is clear to the court that you or any relevant child is likely to suffer harm if an order is not made, and that harm is attributable to the other person, it must make an order, unless the other person or a relevant child will also suffer harm, and that harm is likely to be as great as, or greater than the harm you may suffer. This is the court balancing the harm to make a decision.

Contact Greg Cross, Director and family law solicitor at Crombie Wilkinson on 01653 600070 for advice about your circumstances if you are separating or want advice on the divorce process.