We’re getting divorced – do I have to sell the house?


Getting a divorce or dissolving a civil partnership might be a little more straightforward with online divorce/dissolution applications now being accepted by the courts. But sorting out the money and property side of things remains a bit of a minefield.


Often the first question that crosses people’s minds is what will happen to their home. It is usually the key jointly owned asset and of course living together in the same house once divorce is on the table, can be a challenging and often heart-rending time.


Actually, even if the family home isn’t jointly owned, it is still usually the marital asset on which both parties will make strong claims.


If you are not named on the title to the family home, this is something on which you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.


There are various options on what can happen to the family home:


● Some couples agree that one party will buy the other out.


● Others agree that the home should be sold and the proceeds divided (proportions are not necessarily distributed equally), which might enable both to use their share to rehouse.


● Some families retain the home and leave its ownership as it is until children are 18 or finish their full time education.


● Others retain the property, as a home for one party and the children, but alter how they own it. In this scenario, the non-occupying party will receive a share at a later date.


All of these options need to be set out in a financial agreement which the court approves. This does not usually mean that anyone has to attend court, but the court usually deals with the proposed agreement as a paperwork exercise. This is called a court order. It offers both parties certainty and finality so far as possible. It also means that each party has the security and predictability needed to plan for their futures.


Because the overall settlement should be approved by a court, as a court order, this means that it will cover all aspects of the parties’ financial circumstances, even if no order is made in relation to any particular area (e.g. income has to be taken into account, but that does not necessarily mean that a maintenance order is made).


The court will consider all the relevant circumstances and is guided by the overriding principle that all cases must be dealt with justly, having regard to any welfare issues involved. This particularly includes the housing needs of any children of the relationship. Knowing your rights and responsibilities, and what can and cannot be achieved in this context, is always something on which both parties should seek independent legal advice from a specialist solicitor.


Before a financial settlement can be reached, the parties are required to provide a full picture of their financial circumstances. Watch this space for upcoming blogs on financial disclosure, ways to limit your legal costs and more.


If you wish to speak with Tanya or Richard in confidence please contact us on 01622 238850 or you can email Tanya at tanya@snslaw.co.uk.

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