Divorce and the family home

Divorce and the family home

Buying a property is one of the biggest investments that any of us will make. So, when it comes to divorce, it’s also one of the most contentious assets that splitting couples fight over. It’s important to understand what the options are in terms of how to divide up the property, as well as whether there are any ongoing responsibilities.

How to divide up the family home

There are four basic options for splitting couples who jointly own a property. The simplest of these is to sell up and move out. The proceeds of the sale can be split so that both parties walk away with a lump sum that can be used to secure another property. If this isn’t an option then one party can buy the other out so that home ownership transfers to a single partner and there are no remaining ties. Alternatively, one partner gives up rights of ownership but receives a share of the value of the property so that when it is sold they receive a percentage of its value. Finally, the last option is for one partner to remain in the home and ownership to stay as it is – this is usually the choice for families with children under the age of 18 where the situation is amicable.

Putting your children first

If you are divorcing and you have children then it’s key to make sure that they are prioritised. The court will take into account the need for children to have somewhere suitable to live with each parent and decisions over the family home should be made in the context of trying to avoid disturbing children’s lives as much as possible.

Court orders relating to property in divorce

A ‘Mesher’ order comes into play where the court decides it’s in the best interests of those involved to delay the sale of a property until a certain event occurs. That could be, for example, when any children reach the age of 18. The Mesher order will also state how the proceeds of the sale should be divided once the property is sold. A ‘Martin’ order can also be used to put off the sale of a property on a divorce. This type of order isn’t normally used where there are children involved. It will give one party the right to stay in the property until death or remarriage.

Mortgage issues

One of the most complex property problems for divorcing couples is dealing with a joint mortgage. Whether exiting that joint mortgage is a possibility will depend on individual financial circumstances. If possible then it is advisable to do this as there are a number of advantages. For example, if one partner is moving out and their name is taken off the mortgage then they will be able to borrow more for a future property purchase than if they remained a joint mortgagee. Undoing the joint mortgage also breaks the link between credit files that is established by joint debt. That means that, going forward, the way that each partner manages their debts won’t affect the other.

To speak to a divorce Solicitor in Lancaster or Preston please call 01524 386500 or click here.