Divorce and Selling the Family Home

Aug 17, 2020   ·   8 minute read
Home for sale. Sign in front of new home

As Manchester divorce and family finance solicitors advising separated couples, we think getting divorced and trying to sell your family home during a global pandemic is a lot to expect of anyone. It isn’t therefore surprising that many of the calls that we’re currently receiving are from husbands or wives concerned about if or how they can get divorced and sell the family home. In this blog we look at the issues and your best options when it comes to divorce and selling the family home. 

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Manchester and Cheshire based Evolve Family Law solicitors specialise in divorce and financial settlements. If you need advice about a financial settlement and the family home or any other aspect of family law call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.

Should I sell the family home?

Sadly, some divorcing couples don’t have a choice: the family home has to be sold. For others you can make the financial or personal choice to either sell up, transfer the property to your husband or wife or keep the property yourself.


Often people have a strong knee jerk reaction that they must keep the family home at all costs whilst others are equally adamant that they don’t want to stay in the family home because of the memories associated with it. Undoubtedly selling a family home and moving involves hassle but it is best to consider all your options and the practicalities of a move, such as:

  • How much is the family home worth and how much would I need to spend to buy a suitable new property?
  • If I stay at the family home would the mortgage company agree to transfer the mortgage into my name?
  • If I sell and buy another property what is the maximum mortgage that I could get?
  • Can I afford the monthly mortgage payments on the family home after taking into account any spousal maintenance or child support paid or received?
  • Is it better to make a fresh start and take advantage of the stamp duty holiday?
  • Will my husband or wife agree to the sale of the family home?


The effect of Covid-19 on your decision to sell the family home

Experienced family law solicitors encourage separating couples to look at whether they should sell the family home or not from a short and long term perspective so that you make the right decision for you and your family. However, it is inevitable that Covid-19 may have some influence on your decision making process because:

  • You are worried about house prices and achieving your sale price
  • You are concerned about getting the mortgage on the family home transferred to you or taking out a mortgage on a new property if you don’t feel that your job is secure or you are worried that your husband or wife is at risk of being made redundant and redundancy will affect their ability to pay you child support and spousal maintenance
  • You want to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday as you think that it will be easier to sell the family home during the period of the stamp duty holiday and you will save money on your purchase.


With or without the pressures of Covid-19 the decision to sell the family home, or resolving which one of you should stay at the family home, is always a stressful decision. That is why it is best to take time over your decision and not be too influenced by the views of teenage children who may be leaving home to go to university soon leaving you with a house that is too large for you and without sufficient money to pay for life’s luxuries such as holidays. Alternatively, you could end up with the family home but the trade-off is that you don’t get a share of your husband or wife’s pension so you eventually have to sell the family home to fund your retirement. However, the released equity on the sale of the family home won’t necessarily give you the same income return that a pension sharing order would have done.


Manchester divorce lawyers recognise that with the news all about Covid-19 and reports of localised Manchester and North West lockdowns it is tempting to decide what to do about your family home and your financial affairs based on your Covid-19 concerns. Family lawyers can help you look at all your options and factor in Covid-19 as just one consideration in your deliberations about what to do about your divorce and the family home.


The best way to divorce and sell the family home

If you are getting divorced and thinking about selling the family home here are our tips on selling the family home whilst separating from a partner or getting divorced:

  • Is it realistic for you both to live at the family home until it is sold bearing in mind that once the property is sold it will take time for the conveyancing process to reach completion? It is advisable to always take legal advice before leaving the family home as doing so may make your husband or wife less keen to achieve a sale. However, if the atmosphere at home is affecting you, then one option would be for one of you to rent a property or stay with family until the family home is sold
  • Consult with your husband or wife over the sale price and choice of estate agent and make sure that the estate agent keeps you both informed about viewings and the feedback from prospective buyers. That way if the estate agent recommends a reduction in the sale price your spouse is more likely to be willing to consider this
  • Get your paperwork in order as requests for documents from your buyer’s solicitor can delay the sale of the family home. If you have had work carried out at the property you need to locate your planning and building regulation documents, electrical, gas and FENSA certificates or organise duplicate paperwork
  • Agree how you will divide the household contents as the last thing that you are likely to want to do is try and sort out household contents at the date of the sale. It is best to list the household contents and both sign the agreed schedule and the division of contents between the two of you and highlight what items, if any, will be sold with the house
  • Think about whether you want to sell the family home if you haven’t reached a financial settlement with your husband or wife. It is common for a sale of the family home to be achieved before you reach a full financial settlement including how pensions, business assets and investments are split as well as whether spousal maintenance should be paid and for how long. If you are happy with the sale price of the family home and fear that you will risk losing your buyer if you delay beyond the end of the stamp duty holiday you could agree with your husband or wife that the net proceeds of sale of the family home (after discharging the mortgage, conveyancing solicitor and estate agent fees) are kept in a joint account or by a solicitor until agreement is reached or a financial court order is made. In some situations you can agree to the release of some extra money to allow you to buy your planned new property or to discharge family debts
  • If your spouse won’t agree to a sale of the family home get a court order. If you are certain that the family home has to be sold as it isn’t financially possible for either of you to take it on because the mortgage company won’t transfer the existing mortgage into one of your names or you won’t be able to afford the mortgage on one salary then speak to a divorce and financial settlement solicitor about starting financial proceedings for an order for sale of the family home. If your husband or wife won’t cooperate with the sale of the property then a family judge has the power to make orders about the sale price, the choice of estate agent and can even sign the paperwork to sell the property if your ex-partner refuses to sign the contract to sell the house or the deed of transfer.

How can Evolve Family Law solicitors help?

Following the tips on how to sell your family home during a separation or divorce may make the sale process a bit easier but Manchester divorce and financial settlement solicitors recognise that taking the decision to separate and sell up is hard, especially in such troubled and turbulent times. For advice on any aspect of family law or information on your financial settlement options call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.

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