Mike and Melissa separated after a relationship of 15 years. They had two children aged 9 and 6. Despite their separation they remained living under the one roof to avoid any change in the living arrangements for the children. After a period of 6 months Melissa became uncomfortable sharing the one house with Mike as they constantly fought and she felt she had to tip-toe around Mike to avoid any confrontations. Melissa raised the issues she was having with Mike with her family. They said “Don’t move out of the home, you want to protect your rights in the property. If you move out then Mike will get the home.” As a result of speaking to her family, Melissa stayed living in the property with Mike and the children. That’s when Melissa’s health started to deteriorate and she was diagnosed with depression. Melissa attributed this to feeling stuck in the property with a man she no longer loved or could stand to live with. After being diagnosed with depression, Melissa came to her senses and consulted a Family Law Specialist.
“I have stayed in the property since our separation so I don’t lose my rights to the house, although it has been very difficult for me to live there with Mike,” said Melissa.
Her solicitor advised “You can vacate the property if you wish. This will not affect your rights to seek a property settlement. Could you please tell me whether the property is held in your joint names?”
Melissa replied “Yes, it is in our joint names”. “Well that’s perfect! Even if you were to vacate the property, Mike could not sell or otherwise deal with the property without your consent.”
Melissa was so relieved that she could vacate the home without her rights to property settlement being affected.
She wished she had obtained some advice earlier from a solicitor that specialised in Family Law. Her solicitor spent some time with her discussing the advantages and disadvantages of moving out, as well as the financial logistics of how her needs could be met. Melissa was now able to make an informed decision.