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Selling Property before a Divorce Settlement

Oct 19, 2015   ·   3 minute read

Resolving financial matters during a divorce can be a lengthy process. Whilst some spouses are able to quickly reach an agreement that they are both happy with, and have it formalised and approved by the court soon after, others are not so fortunate.

For some divorcing spouses, the delays involved in working out how best to divide marital assets cause significant financial problems. A very common example is where one of the spouses moves out of the matrimonial home, expecting that it will be sold quickly, only to find that the other spouse wants to stay there. Until 2015, that situation could not be resolved until the court made a final financial order, which could easily take a year or more.

However, in the case of BR v VT (2015) the court made an interim order for the sale of the matrimonial home which was being occupied by the wife and children.

The family’s finances were in dire straits. Both the husband and the wife owed large sums of money in legal fees, and the Husband had an income tax bill of approximately £165,000. The spouses did not have funds available to pay these costs.

The spouses had previously agreed to sell the matrimonial home, and were at the point of formally accepting an offer when the wife changed her mind and decided to stay put. This may have been a result of a decision in separate proceedings relating to the children, that the wife would not be allowed to relocate with them to her native California.

The husband therefore asked the court to force the sale of the house as an interim measure. The Judge agreed, and ordered that the house had to be sold as an interim measure in order to pay the couple’s debts, meaning that the wife and children would have to move out, before the final divorce settlement.

This sounds harsh. However, in this case the only available asset that would sufficiently cover the spouses’ debts was the family home, and it was inevitable that it would have to be sold as part of any financial settlement. The Judge considered the effect of the sale on the children of the family, but found that the Husband’s income was sufficient to pay the rent on a suitable property for his wife and children as well as his own rent and their other expenses.

If you need legal help unlocking the equity in your matrimonial home during your divorce please contact us.

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