Occupational Rights in the Matrimonial Home - How far a spouse's rights of occupation can bind third parties.


The Matrimonial Homes Act was introduced in 1967 to prevent a husband from selling or mortgaging the matrimonial home over his wife’s head. But the effect of the Act has gone much further in some cases, by entangling unsuspecting purchasers of land in matrimonial disputes, with dire results for the vendor spouse, and sometimes for the purchaser as well. Highlighting these problems was the main reason for writing this material, which I started writing in 1988, and completed in 1989. This was the period, whilst I was studying law as an undergraduate, at the London Metropolitan University, then known as the City of London Polytechnic.

Of course, numerous statutes and case law in this area of law have come into existence since then, such as the Family Law Act 1996, the Civil Partnership Act 2004, and the Land Registration Act 2002 etc. The government has also implemented in their policy, some of the recommendations I proposed.

Many thanks to Mr. Sam Swerling, my old Family Law lecturer for his patience, supervision and encouragement.

Chapter 1

Historical Background: The situation before the Matrimonial Homes Act in 1967 (National Provincial Bank Ltd v Ainsworth [1965] AC 1175, the introduction of the 1967 Act, those entitled to protection under the Act, the Matrimonial Homes Act 1983, the nature and extent of the rights protected, how the rights conferred by the Act can be enforced, the factors that the court take into consideration, in deciding applications under the Matrimonial Homes Act.

Chapter 2

The Spouses Rights of Occupation against Third Parties: Process of registration, entry in the register, registration for ulterior motives, release of rights and cancellation of registration, the effect of registration, consequence of non-registration.

Chapter 3

Criticisms of the registration Requirement: The spouse, usually the wife at a disadvantage because she has never heard of the Class F Charge, remedy available under the Act is too little and perhaps too late, solicitors problems i.e. the wife may not know whether the title is registered or not, no provision whereby the estate owner is notified of the registration of a charge, so that a malicious or spiteful wife may use the Act as a powerful weapon.

Chapter 4

Suggested Remedies: What the critics and academicians have suggested, criticisms of these suggested remedies, their advantages on the issue in question.

Chapter 5

Conclusion and Recommendation: The future of the Matrimonial Homes Act, should its provisions be extended? Suggested remedies from the author.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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