Top 5 things to know about splitting the house when divorcing


Divorce is one of the toughest things to go through and when the dust begins to settle it's time to ‘divide the assets’. The family home is usually the first thing to consider as it will most likely be the largest asset of them all.

Simpson Millar knows divorcing is a difficult time so we have put together 5 things that you should know about the situation to better prepare yourself if this unfortunately happens to you in the future.

1. Division of assets

The courts will look to equalise assets where it is a long marriage - however, there is no formula in this country for setting out how assets are divided on divorce. Courts will often look to make a decision that is fair to both parties, although fair to one may seem unfair to another. If there are children involved the court will take this into consideration when making a decision, and put the children’s needs first.

2. A 'mesher order'

The courts may consider putting a 'mesher order' in place, if you wish to stay in the family home because you want to maintain continuity for the sake of the children, and you cannot offset your spouses interest in the property or raise further mortgage for a buy-out.

This is a court order that will transfer ownership of the house to one party and the other party will have a legal charge over the property. That legal charge will be realised at a future date, usually when your children have finished education or if the party staying in the house remarries or cohabits.

At that point the house is sold and either the charge is paid out or the party who stayed in the house pays off the charge. The charge holder might have to stay on the mortgage until the mortgage lender agrees to release them or until the mortgage is repaid.

3. The matrimonial home

If the matrimonial home is owned in your spouse’s name alone you may need to act fast. To prevent your spouse selling the house without you knowing, you should enter a Notice of Home Rights against the property with the Land Registry. The notice is served upon the spouse living in the family home and can't be removed with your agreement or an order from the court.

4. Personal possessions

If, for whatever reason, you feel that you cannot carry on living in the family home then you can leave and not lose any financial entitlement to the property. It is recommended however, that you take any personal documentation or treasured personal possessions with you as returning to the property may create further hostilities.

5. Alternative options to the courts

Quarrelling in the court room is not your only option if you and your former spouse can come together amicably. Mediation with an independent and neutral mediator is an option.

Alternatively, many couples have sought the help of a new process called collaborative law. Both parties sign an agreement to not go to court and instead talk it over around the negotiating table. The process focuses on the needs of the family and how a solution can be achieved.

The cost of divorce is not just financial but emotional. Fighting it out in the courtroom can bring enormous distress to yourself and any children you may have. Trying to keep the situation as amicable as possible is best all around. Small concessions may have to be made on your part but in the long run it may be worth it.

Remaining in the family home may equally be as hard as letting it go. Take into consideration running costs, maintenance and new budgets that may need to be put in place. Often, a fresh start is needed to help couples move on emotionally.

News Archive

Get In Touch