What Happens to Property During a Divorce?

by Mark Johnston

What Happens to Property During a Divorce?

According to the most recent figures available there were almost 120,000 divorces in England and Wales in 2010.

Research has shown that the dividing of assets is a traumatic business and  saying “It’s over” is the easy part – because deciding what happens to the family home can be more emotionally draining than the break-up itself.

There is no standard 50 – 50 rule inUKlaw regarding the division of property and assets. The legal process is set up to ensure a fair division of assets based on both partners’ circumstances and needs.

Some splits are of course easier than others, a couple without children who have been contributing the same amount towards a mortgage will have both their names on the title deeds and there is unlikely to be any question over who owns the property.

Parties can agree how to divide assets themselves. But, if that is not possible, they can ask the court to make a decision for them.

The main options couples have regarding property in divorce procedings are:

–         sell and divide the proceeds

–         the house is transferred to just one partner

–         one partner buys the other one out

It is a misconception that if only one person has his/her name on the deed title, that their partner has no rights and no financial right to claim.

A partner who has not contributed towards the mortgage may still have a right to claim on the property as many courts view time as well as money spent during the marriage as an investment in the relationship and an asset in itself.

Therefore, the partner that is not named on the deed titles can register their matrimonial home rights through the land registry. By registering an interest it prevents the other partner from selling the property or transferring ownership until a financial settlement is resloved.

Rights however are not always set in stone because how long a couple have been married and whether they have children will eventually determine how the family home is divided up or whether it should be sold at all.

There is no set formula to work out the division of property. The objective is simply to stretch joint assets to cover both parties’ needs in a way that is reasonable and fair.

Figures from some estate agents have shown that divorce or separation accounts for 9 per cent of all property sales.

However, Selina Brown, of Brown’s estate agency, said  “Divorcing couples fighting for their property can be like the War of the Roses,”

Some estate agents have reveraled that if one part of the couple decides that they want to sell the house against the other’s wishes, it can become difficult to sell. If one party has moved out and the party remaining does not want to sell, then cleaning can slip, the house can be left untidy, keys can go missing and appointments to view the property can be cancelled at the last minute.

 In conclusion dividing property takes time and generally, the longer you have been together, the longer it takes to reach an agreement.

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