Getting married: does a home need to be in both married partners' names for them to have joint ownership of it?

Getting married is good enough legal protection when it comes to splitting the value of a house, regardless of whose name is on the title deeds.

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Question: My fiance and I are getting married in a couple of months. We live in a house which is in his name. Should I ask him to transfer it into our joint names when we get married in order to protect my interest — or is that unnecessary?

Answer: It is not really necessary because once you are married you will have a right to occupy the house for as long as the marriage continues. 

The fact that the house is registered in the sole name of your husband will be irrelevant, because the right of occupation is automatic.

In addition, once you are married the house will become a matrimonial asset. So if at a later date you divorce, there would be presumption of sharing the value of the house regardless of whose name it is in or how it was acquired.

Indeed, the leading case of Miller V Miller says that the family home is of such significance to a family that it should be shared equally, regardless of where the house came from.

However, if you really want your name on the title to the property then your husband can transfer the house into your joint names, but if there is a mortgage you would need to obtain the consent of the lender, and stamp duty may be payable if you assume liability for the mortgage.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@ standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.


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