We’re not married. Who gets to stay in our home if we separate?
Question & AnswerWe’re not married. Who gets to stay in our home if we separate?
Agree on who stays in the home
You and your partner may agree on who stays in the home. You can do this even if only one of you is the legal owner or tenant of the home.
You can also decide that both of you will continue to live in the home. You don’t need to live separately to legally separate. You can “live separate and apart under the same roof”. This means you both live in the same home but you don’t do things together any more, such as sleep, go out, cook, or eat together.
You might continue to live in the same home because it is easier to care for your children together or because it is too expensive to move out.
Whether you and your partner can live separate and apart in the home, even on a temporary basis, often depends on:
- how tense things are between you and your partner
- whether someone can afford to move out or has somewhere else to go
- safety concerns, including if there has been a history of domestic abuse
You should also think about what you want to happen with the home after you and your partner have resolved all of your other issues.
Sometimes neither partner wants to keep the home, or both partners agree that they can’t afford the home anymore. Other times, both partners want to live in the home and want the other partner to move out.
Some of the things to think about when deciding are:
- Do you or your partner have other places to live? How quickly can you move to this place?
- Does one partner need to be in the house? For example, do they work from the home?
- Are your children going to be affected if they move out? What connections do the children have to the location, for example, schools, friends, and activities?
- Should the parent who mostly looks after the children be the person who stays in the house?
If one partner agrees to move out, they may move out on certain conditions only, such as:
- they get time to get their personal items, such as clothing and paperwork
- mail is redirected to their new address
- they still get to see the children
If one of you moves out, you and your partner need to decide who pays for costs such as electricity and property taxes. You might also need to consider who does yard work, home repair, or maintenance tasks for the home.