There is no doubt that divorce is one of the most upsetting and painful processes you may experience in life. The breakdown of a marriage to the point it cannot be saved is a terrible thing for all involved. However, with figures showing that around 40% of UK marriages end in divorce then it is something that many people will go through.
Perhaps one of the things that makes it most difficult is the confusion around what is involved and what happens during the whole process. One of the big areas within divorce that many need answers on what happens to the property you live in together?
Identification of assets – including your home
One of the major things any divorce will involve is drawing up a list of shared assets that need to be divided up. This can involve a range of shared assets you have together but will certainly include the house you have purchased when married.
To start the process along in terms of your property, your solicitor will arrange for an up to date valuation of it. This is key so the current market value of the property can be ascertained for future use in the divorce proceedings.
Do not make the mistake of thinking because the mortgage payments or bills are in your name that the house is automatically yours. This is not true! The house will be considered as part of the shared assets of the whole marriage and thus included in the divorce settlement. If you purchased the house on your own before getting married though, then this should be highlighted to your solicitor.
What happens next? – Two main choices
Once the valuation has been done then there are two main choices in terms of dealing with the property you own, providing it is a shared asset. These are:
This option sees one spouse buy the other out so they can keep the property and continue to live in it. If, for example, the property was worth £100,000 then you would have to pay your spouse half (i.e. £50,000) for their share of it.
Once this is done, the deeds would be transferred into your name and the house would then be yours. If you have the money required and wish to remain in the property, then this is a good option.
If you do not have the money to buy your spouse out or cannot agree who should continue living there, then you will need to sell the property.
You have to put the property up for sale and divide any equity remaining from the sale between you equally. This is good for giving everyone a new start and also generating more money to be divided up for each spouse.
What is a Mesher order?
There is actually a third option to consider in the form of a Mesher order. This is not seen as much as the above two but can be worth thinking about if you have children under 18 in the family home. These orders basically stop the home being sold until a set time to ensure the children face minimal disruption and stress.
What about if the property is rented?
The above points relate to dealing with property you own when divorcing. But what happens if you live in a rental property?
In simple terms, whoever’s name is on the rental agreement is responsible for paying the rent until the term is up. One key point, however, is that you both have the right to live there if married or a civil partner for the full term, even if one will not be paying the rent.
Naturally, once your rental term is up then you simply go your separate ways – as the property is not owned by either spouse, there is no sale to conduct or money to divide up.
What to do next?
Even when you know the basics around divorce and what happens to property, it is still a confusing and upsetting time. You should always contact a divorce solicitor to discuss all your available options, they will also be able to provide you with the necessary support.