In many cases of divorce, one of the most contentious issues you’ll face is what to do with the family home. This can be made even more of a problem when there are children involved.
While you may think that moving out of the house would be the best course of action, this may not necessarily be accurate. The implications of this could work against you further down the line, so it is important to obtain professional advice as soon as possible.
Come to an Agreement
When deciding what to do with the family home after divorce, the first thing should do is try to negotiate and come up with a solution that is beneficial for both parties. While this may not be possible in certain circumstances, it could be extremely worthwhile further down the line.
For example, if you are separating and have children, it may be a good idea to retain the family home until at least they have finished their education. This should drastically reduce the level of disruption caused.
If you are able to reach an agreement, you need to have it drawn into a Consent Order that is approved by the Court. This Order will make your agreement legally binding and should prevent any challenges from your ex-spouse further down the line.
Should you not be able to reach an accord, you will need to ask the Courts to decide on your behalf. If you leave it up to a Judge, they will make a ruling based on the needs of both parties.
Understand Your Rights
When thinking about staying in the family home after divorce, it is important that you fully understand your rights. If you are not sure which way to turn, you should always seek specialist legal advice.
To help, here is a breakdown of a few common scenarios and what your rights would be.
If your property is in both your names, no matter if it is rented or owned, you both have the legal right to remain in the home. This means you cannot be forced to move out of the house unless there is a Court Order in place.
House is in Spouse’s Name Only
If you are living in a property that is not in your name, you will still be protected by your “home rights”, which include the right to remain in the house. You should register these rights with the Land Registry as soon as possible.
It is important to understand that the issue of a Decree Absolute or the dissolution of a Civil Partnership will usually bring these rights to an end. Should you find yourself in this situation, you are able to request an extension via the Courts.
House is in Your Name Only
When you are the sole owner of the property, your ex-spouse will be protected by “home rights” until the dissolution of a Civil Partnership or the issue of a Decree Absolute. However, they can still apply to a Court to have these rights extended. If you find yourself in this situation, it is a good idea to seek professional advice on how to proceed going forward.
How Will a Court Split the House?
As mentioned at the beginning, it is always best to come to a mutual agreement about what to do with the house – if at all possible. If not, the Courts will need to make a decision that takes into account the needs of all parties. All marital assets are up for consideration, including ones held in one party’s name only.
These assets will then be divided based on the regional needs of each person. In essence, the Court will always try to ensure that both parties suffer an equal drop in their standard of living.
If there are children involved, the Court’s first consideration will be for their welfare. Wherever possible, the Court will try to minimise disruption for the child.
This desire to minimise upheaval can sometimes mean that the child will stay in the family home with a resident parent. To offset this, the Court may impose a situation where one spouse keeps the property but no maintenance, or forfeits their right to the other party’s pension.
On top of the welfare of any children, the Court will look at a number of factors when deciding who gets the house – including:
- The income and earning capacity and other potential financial resources of each party
- The financial needs and obligations that each person has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the divorce
- The contribution each person has made to the welfare of the family and is likely to do in the foreseeable future
What You Shouldn’t Do
When you’re thinking about staying in the family home after divorce, there are a few actions you should avoid – as these could turn the tables against you if a Court has to intervene.
For starters, you should try to remain in the house wherever possible – or if you do have to leave, ensure that you don’t go too far away. You should also not move into another property with somebody else such as a new partner, as their finances will also be taken into account when deciding who gets your house.
Can I Guarantee that I’ll Get to Keep the House?
Given the often complicated negotiations that take place during the divorce process, it is incredibly difficult to predict who will walk away with the house. With the Courts having to decide how assets are split according to the rules listed above, everyone’s experiences and outcomes will be different.
While you may not be able to guarantee success, it is important to seek professional guidance from a solicitor. They will take everything into consideration and instruct you throughout the process to give you the best possible chance of getting what you want.
Swift Action is Essential
When thinking about staying in the family home after divorce, it is crucial that you obtain professional advice as soon as possible. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to separation, so it is essential to talk through your individual circumstances and devise a solution that is best for you.
This is where Shams Williams can help. Our expert team of Divorce and Family Law specialists are on hand to provide professional guidance throughout every step of the process.
No matter your requirements, you can rely on Shams Williams to gain a complete understanding of your circumstances and be available for you whenever we are needed. We can be a source of stability and dependability in an otherwise turbulent situation.