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Resolving occupation disputes

This content applies to England & Wales

Different ways occupation disputes can be resolved.

In some cases, it may not be possible for the couple to live together, or one partner might refuse to allow the other to occupy the property. Family mediation can help families resolve disputes about children or financial matters away from the courts. It is a voluntary process where family members can meet safely in the presence of an impartial and independent family mediator to discuss disputes. It does not aim to help people get back together, but to help them manage their future better.

For more information see Gov.uk – Money and property when a relationship ends.

If the couple cannot agree what to do with the property, they will have to apply to the court to resolve the situation. In the long term, for example, a tenant may take action to alter the tenancy position without involving the courts under housing law, or the court may transfer a tenancy under family law. In the short term, the court can make an occupation order under the Family Law Act 1996 setting out, for example, who can live at the property or ordering one of the cohabitants to leave. Occupation orders are available to sole tenants and sole licensees, and non-tenant/non-licensee cohabitants.

Occupation orders under FLA 1996

Occupation orders that can be granted under the Family Law Act 1996. 

Eligibility to apply

Eligibility to apply for occupation orders where there is a sole tenancy or licence 

Orders for sole tenant cohabitants

Occupation orders where the applicant is the sole tenant/licensee cohabitant. 

Orders for non-tenant cohabitants

Occupation orders where the applicant is a non-tenant/non-licensee cohabitant or former cohabitant. 

Neither has the right to occupy

Occupation orders where neither cohabitant or former cohabitant has a right to occupy. 

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