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A matrimonial home is essentially a family home. (Note that this is not the same as matrimonial property: a house can be one but not the other and can also be both.

In general, both spouses have the right to live in the matrimonial home regardless of whether the house is owned only by or let to one spouse.

We are often asked what can be done to make a spouse leave the matrimonial home. One spouse cannot however ‘evict’ the other, and cannot lock the other out either. The right to live in the matrimonial home carries with it the right of access to the home even after a spouse moves out. This can be awkward because say a couple break up due to an affair. The ‘guilty’ spouse can still insist on remaining in the matrimonial home. Even if they move out, that spouse can come back to the house any time they wish to – they can come and go, in fact – and this can feel very intrusive to the other spouse.

We are often asked what can be done about this and unfortunately often have to say that nothing can be done about it, other than attempting via discussions between solicitors to regulate arrangements for the non-resident spouse’s access to the home. They can be asked to say in advance when they would be coming; what they would intend doing while there; how often they would plan to return to the house – and so on. In the event of cooperation, then the resident spouse can apply to the court for an order preventing the other spouse from having access to the matrimonial home. That spouse would have to show that the behaviour of the other spouse was a threat to their mental or physical health, or to the mental or physical health of any children in the house. This can be very difficult to prove and independent evidence will be required e.g. a doctor’s report, police reports and so on.

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