The family home is often the most valuable asset owned by a couple, and its occupation and ownership can become a contentious issue after separation. In some cases, one party may seek exclusive use and occupation of the family home, which means that they would live in the house exclusively, and the other party would have to leave.
Understanding Exclusive Use and Occupation
Exclusive use and occupation refer to the legal right of one party to live in the family home to the exclusion of the other party. This does not necessarily mean that the party granted exclusive use and occupation will ultimately receive the property as part of the final property settlement. It is often a temporary arrangement until the final property settlement is concluded.
The first step in the process is usually to try and reach an agreement with the other party. This may involve negotiations between the parties themselves or with the help of their legal representatives. If an agreement is reached, it can be formalised through a written agreement or Consent Orders.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, either party can apply to the Family Court for an order granting them exclusive use and occupation of the family home. The court will consider various factors to determine whether it is appropriate to make such an order, including:
The court will weigh up these factors and consider whether it is just and equitable to grant one party exclusive use and occupation of the home.
If the court grants an order for exclusive use and occupation, the other party will be required to vacate the property by a specified date. It may also be necessary to make arrangements for the transfer of utilities and other practical matters.
Obtaining exclusive use and occupation of the family home after separation can be a complex and emotionally charged process. It is advisable to seek legal advice and explore all options, including negotiation and mediation, before applying to the court for an order. Ultimately, the court will consider the best interests of all parties involved, especially any children, when making a decision.