Divorce: What Happens to Your Family Home?

                        Sarb Gosal

Written by Sarb Gosal, Partner at Spire Solicitors LLP.

Following the stresses, pressure and sometimes the trials and tribulations of Christmas, January is now sadly seen as a time of year for relationships to break down. Or at least for people to contemplate taking advice from a matrimonial specialist.  This can be a difficult time both emotionally and financially, and there will be a number of things for you to consider. One of the most important is any shared property or family home, as in most cases this is likely to be your most valuable asset.

How will the house be split in divorce where there are no children?

If you have been married for a relatively brief period of time, and have no relevant children to consider, then you may be able to sell the home and divide the proceeds evenly especially if this reflects the contributions each party has made to the acquisition of the property. However, if you have brought different amounts of money into the marriage, or had a property to start with, then the matrimonial property division may need to be adjusted to ensure a fair settlement.

What happens with the family home when children are involved?

If there are children involved, the focus will be to disrupt them as little as possible. The children’s needs are the Court’s first consideration. Property division in divorce needs to take into account the fact that children require a ‘family home’ if possible with each parent, and therefore wherever possible the Court will look to see if a second home can be bought for the other spouse. Sadly this is not always possible and sometimes there is only enough capital to rehouse one spouse (usually the one with the primary care for the children) and the other spouse may not be in a position to purchase a property themselves at least not immediately.

Does a divorce mean a house sale is inevitable?

No, it does not. In some circumstances one spouse may be able to “buy out” the other spouse from their interest in the family home or the parties or indeed the Court may decide that the sale of the property should be deferred to a later date such as when the youngest child finishes education (usually secondary) or attains a certain age.

How long will the process take?

The longest part is not the actual sale process which may only take a few weeks but the process of being able to sell or to have agreed to sell. This process can take weeks, months or even more than 1 year it depends how much negotiation is required as well as whether the Court’s input is required.

When will I be able to get another mortgage or buy a new house?

It really depends on that individual’s financial circumstances. It is much harder to get another mortgage or buy another house if a spouse is still say financially tied to the family home by for instance still being a party to the mortgage secured on that property.

If you wish to discuss any of these options in more detail, please contact Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077 for all your legal needs.