This section outlines your rights and options if your relationship breaks down. It looks at your rights if you sell your shared home or you rent your home with your partner and outlines when mediation may help.
My partner and I own our home
You may want to sell your home if your relationship breaks down. If you didn't make a legal arrangement with your partner when you bought your home you may have to go to court to work out how to split the money from the sale. Your rights depend on:
- whether you both own the property, or there is one legal owner,
- whether there is a legal agreement,
- if you are married,
- how long you have lived in the home,
- whether you paid some of the deposit,
- whether you made regular mortgage payments,
- whether you have children.
It can be complicated working out your rights if you break up with your partner and want to sell a shared home.
Paying the mortgage
You may be responsible for your monthly mortgage payments even if you have moved out. If you don't pay your home could be repossessed and sold to pay off your mortgage.
Get advice if you are worried about your mortgage payments. Advice is available from Housing Rights Service.
My partner and I rent our home
Your rights depend on whether you are joint tenants or one of you is the sole tenant. If both names are on the tenancy agreement you are joint tenants. Visit our renting subsite to find out what to do if you need to end your tenancy early because of a relationship breakdown.
Get advice if you don't have a tenancy agreement or you are unsure whether you are joint tenants.
Mediation may be able to help if your relationship is breaking down. Organisations such as Relate specialise in helping couples with relationship difficulties.
Relate can work with you to try and resolve any difficulties. Mediation can help you come to an amicable arrangement about the family home or caring for your children.
Mediation is only appropriate if both parties:
- voluntarily choose mediation,
- are willing to be reasonable,
- are happy to contact the other party,
- can communicate.
Mediation isn't an appropriate solution if:
- one person won't negotiate,
- one person wants to punish the other,
- one person is afraid of abuse, violence or harassment.
You may want to leave your home if you are experiencing domestic abuse. You could also get a court order to stop the abusive person from contacting you. You can get advice on your options 24 hours a day from Women's Aid on 0800 917 1414.
Help from the Housing Executive
If you are homeless or about to become homeless you should apply to the Housing Executive for help. The Housing Executive has a legal duty to give housing advice and information on preventing homelessness to anyone who asks in Northern Ireland.
The Housing Executive must investigate your personal circumstances if you state that you are homeless on the Housing and Transfer Application Form . The level of assistance you will receive from the Housing Executive depends on your personal circumstances.
The Housing Executive must make enquiries about your housing situation if it believes you are homeless or about to become homeless. The Housing Executive can't make assumptions about your personal circumstances. If the Housing Executive is refusing to accept your homeless application you should get advice as soon as possible.
Applying for Housing Executive or housing association accommodation
You can apply for Housing Executive or housing association accommodation using the selection scheme. You will usually have to wait longer for accommodation if the Housing Executive decides that you aren't homeless. How long you will have to wait for accommodation depends on:
- your personal circumstances,
- where you want to live,
- what type of accommodation you need.
Get advice if you are afraid of becoming homeless because of relationship breakdown. An adviser can outline what options are available. Advice is available from Housing Rights Service.
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