Your rights if your partner wants you to move out

This page explains whether or not your husband, wife, civil partner or partner can evict you from your home when your relationship breaks down. It also helps you work out whether you have the right to return to your home after you have left.

Can my partner throw me out of our home if we split up?

This depends on:

  • the legal status of your relationship

  • whether you have occupancy rights.

I'm married/I'm in a civil partnership/I'm a tenant/I live with my partner and have occupancy rights granted

If any of these situations applies to you, you have strong rights to stay in the family home and your partner would have to get a court order (for example, an exclusion order) before they could make you leave your home. For more information on the rights you have to stay in the home, read the section on occupancy rights.

If your partner tries to force you out, for example, by making your life so miserable that you have no choice but to go, or changing the locks so you can't get back into the house, this is illegal eviction. Illegal eviction is a criminal offence, and you can report your partner to the police. In addition, you may be able to take out an interdict, a non-harassment order or another type of court order against them to prevent them acting in this way.

I live with my partner but don't have occupancy rights granted

In this case your partner will be able to evict you without a court order if they give you reasonable notice. Once your partner has withdrawn their permission for you to share their home, you will no longer have a right to remain there, and there is nothing to stop your partner changing the locks on the property when you're out so you can't get back in.

If you refuse to leave, your partner can apply to the sheriff court for an order of ejection, or can even ask the police for help in getting you out. However, the police are unlikely to want to get involved if your partner doesn't have a court order.

If you don't want to leave, you'll need to apply to the sheriff court immediately for occupancy rights to be granted. This option is open to you whether you are in heterosexual, lesbian or gay relationship with your partner.

You may also be able to apply for occupancy rights after you have left the property. This will generally only be the case if you were forced out by a violent or abusive partner.

I've moved out - can I move back in again?

I'm married or in a civil partnership

If you've left the family home (for example, if you've gone to stay in a refuge or with family or friends), you have the right to move back in again, along with any children or grandchildren you look after.

If your partner doesn't want you to return then you can go to the court for an order to enforce your occupancy rights. This will allow you to move back in. However, you do have the right to force your way back in without a court order. If you need to do this (for example, if you need to collect furniture or belongings) it's best to ask the police to come with you, to prevent things getting out of hand.

If you moved out on or after the 4 May 2006 then your right to return to and live in the home will only last for two years. However, you will only lose your rights if, during the two-year period, you haven't lived with your partner or in the family home.

You will also lose your right to live in the home if:

  • you give up ('renounce') your rights to live there, or

  • you get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership.

If you moved out before the 4 May 2006 then you will have the right to move back in until you get a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership or you renounce your rights.

I have occupancy rights

If you have occupancy rights granted by the court, you can return to the family home while those rights last. Your rights last as long as is specified in the court order (up to six months) or until you are legally evicted from the home. You can apply to the court to renew your occupancy rights once they have expired. You must remember to do this though because you won't get any reminders.

If your partner doesn't want you to return to the family home, you can ask the court for an order to enforce your occupancy rights and allow you to move back in. The page on resolving disputes at court has more on this.

I'm a tenant or joint tenant

In this case, you'll retain the right to return to your home until your tenancy officially ends. Your tenancy may end because:

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Last updated: 29 December 2014

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England