Taking the decision to separate may mean you want to ‘hunker down’ and not make any decisions about divorce financial settlements and the family home. Others may want to get the family home on the market and sold so they can make a fresh start, unhampered by the memories associated with the property.
Selling the family home – getting the timing right
The important thing is to not rush into making decisions about the family home as whilst your instant view may be that you want to move because of the marriage breakdown, or you want to stay because the children’s school is nearby, feelings and circumstances can change over time.
There is no right or wrong answer about whether to sell the family home before or after your divorce. A lot will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you are in a six bed property with grounds and the children have grown up and left home, the separation may be the push to sell the family home and to do it now rather than wait until after the divorce.
Your views on the timing of the sale of the family home may be influenced by whether you think the property boom will end or not. If you are in the camp that thinks the UK is heading into a recession and a housing market crash, you may believe it is better to sell up now, rather than wait. Waiting may not be in your best interests if you will end up downsizing in a property slump.
A divorce financial settlement solicitor can help you look at your options to try and work out which one suits you best.
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Things to consider about the timing of the sale of the family home
There are loads of things to weigh up when you are debating about whether to sell the family home before or after your divorce. Here are just a few:
- If you sell up, will you buy another house straight away or rent? Is renting a more expensive option or is it best in your situation as you will then be chain free when you find something else to buy
- If you get off the property ladder by selling the family home, do you risk pricing yourself out of buying the house you want if property prices continue to rise?
- Is the family home mortgaged? Is a preferential mortgage rate due to expire? Can you transport an existing mortgage to your new property? Will you be able to get another mortgage if you have recently started a new business or because of other changes in circumstances?
- Is it too early to sell up until you know the value of all the family assets, such as pensions or the family business? You may prefer to stay in the family home by offsetting the value of other assets
- Until you have more information about your partner’s income and your earnings capacity you may not know if you can afford to stay in the family home with your anticipated income and the potential for spousal maintenance payments
- If the family home is owned in joint names, or your sole name, your ex-partner could refuse to cooperate with the sale of the family home until a financial court order is made. If the house is owned by you, your ex-partner could place an objection at the land registry to prevent a sale or remortgage. Alternatively, they may only agree to sign the sale paperwork if you both agree that all or a percentage of the net proceeds of sale are retained in a solicitors account until you have reached a full divorce financial settlement when the sale proceeds will be divided in accordance with the financial court order
Sale or delay
Sometimes people are anxious to sell up because they cannot cope with continuing to live with their ex-partner at the family home as the divorce financial settlement process is taking too long. A divorce financial settlement solicitor can:
- Advise on whether you have the grounds to apply for an injunction order so you can stay at the family home until the court decides if the family home should be sold. This is known as an occupation order or ouster injunction
- Help you understand the range of financial settlement court orders the court could make in financial settlement proceedings to assist you in reaching an agreement in family mediation or by through solicitor negotiations