Divorce & Ending a Civil Partnership: Your Home
What Will Happen To Your Home?
The family home is often the most substantial asset that you have, and it is therefore usually the main focus of financial disputes.
The court’s first concern is that your children are provided with ‘suitable accommodation’ for themselves and the resident parent. Suitable accommodation does not have to mean the family home. For example if the home exceeds the children’s needs, the court can order the property to be sold and the proceeds of sale to be distributed allowing each party to purchase a smaller property that will meet their needs more appropriately.
In any event, there are a number of options that the court has and therefore many ways that a settlement can be reached concerning the family home. It is essential that you obtain legal advice to discuss your options regarding the family home.
Types of Settlement Regarding Your Home
Selling Your Home
Where there is sufficient equity in the marital / partnership home to enable you both to buy adequate accommodation for your needs, the court could order the family home to be sold. The proceeds of sale would then be divided between you and you would need to find alternative accommodation. Unfortunately if you have children they will have to leave their childhood home and this may cause them to be upset and disrupted. The courts recognise this and will try to avoid this option if possible.
If there is not enough money to pay for the mortgage and the outgoings on the matrimonial / partnership home then a sale may be unavoidable.
Transferring The Home To One Person
Where one party wants a sale and the other does not, the party who wants to stay could purchase the other persons interest. This could be achieved by re-mortgaging the home, using funds from elsewhere or seeking assistance from other family members. This is dependent upon the mortgage company being prepared to agree to release the other person from their obligations under the mortgage. It would also depend upon how much the mortgage company would be prepared to loan. This will depend upon the other persons income levels and the amount of equity in the home. There are many variations on this type of settlement.
Keeping The Home Until A Specified Time Or Event
A ‘Mesher Order’ could be considered which preserves both parties interests in the marital home. The resident parent would remain in the home until a “triggering event” occurred. “Triggering events” vary but can include the following:
- The youngest child reaching the age of 18; or
- The youngest child finishing full time education, meaning secondary or tertiary education, whichever is the latter.
- The person staying in the home remarries, or lives with another person as husband and wife / civil partner for a period of three or six months.
- The person staying in the home dies.
- The person staying in the home voluntary leaves the property.
- The person staying in the home decides to sell the property.
The home would then be sold, or the other person be given the opportunity to purchase the others interest in the home, and the proceeds divided.
It is important to continue all payments relating to the family home including mortgage payments, insurances, endowment policies, household bills etc. Otherwise this asset could be at risk. If you are unable to maintain payments on the home you should contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice, and get in touch with the mortgage provider or landlord.
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