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Resolving occupation disputes

This content applies to England & Wales

Different ways in which occupation disputes can be resolved.

In some cases, it may not be possible for the couple to live together, or one spouse/civil 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 joint tenant may take action to alter the tenancy position without involving the courts under housing law, or the court may transfer a tenancy under matrimonial/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 joint tenant spouses to leave. Occupation orders are available to joint tenants, joint licensees and their spouses.

Occupation orders under FLA 1996

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

Eligibility to apply

Which married or civil partner joint tenants are eligible to apply for an occupation order. 

Orders for joint tenants/licensees

Occupation orders where the spouses or civil partners are joint tenants/licensees. 

Former spouses/civil partners

Occupation orders for former spouses and civil partners. 

Neither has the right to occupy

Occupation orders where neither spouse or civil partner or former spouse or former civil partner has a right to occupy. 

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