Getting divorced is a stressful, emotional and, for many, an expensive experience. There are many reasons why couples get divorced in the UK and according to recent data from the ONS (Office of National Statistics) divorces between heterosexual couples increased a dramatic 18.4% from 2018 to 2019. Figures for same sex couples echo the increase and have nearly doubled from 428 in 2018 to 822 in 2019 for England and Wales.
The pressures we all face in our day to day lives have risen further during the pandemic and it is feared that the effects of lockdown may only compound marital problems and ultimately could force a couple to break up.
So, how is a house divided in a divorce in the UK and what are your rights when it comes to divorce and property? Spring have many years of experience in buying properties to help couples settle their divorce and allow both parties to move on and plan their future.
Your rights as a resident after divorce
There is no standard practice when it comes to divorce; who gets what in the settlement depends on many factors such as individual circumstances as well as the financial needs of the other person. Other assets, such as property, pensions and investments are also taken into account when divorcing.
Often the most valued asset a couple owns is a property. Even if you did not contribute to the purchase of the property, the property usually remains part of the assets to be split. Again, it all depends on the individual circumstances. Even if you rent your home, it’s not cut and dry who gets to stay in the property as you both still have the right to stay in the property, especially when children are involved.
In an ideal world, a divorce would be amicable and both parties would mutually agree on the division of assets and then apply for a ‘consent order’ making the agreement legally binding. But not all couples can reach an amicable decision on their own - in many cases, unreasonable behavior (adultery for example) is cited as the most common reason for divorce. In these circumstances, when you are struggling to reach an agreement, this is where mediation or arbitration will play an important role in deciding who gets what and helps to settle your situation outside of the court system.
If mediation cannot reach a mutual decision, then it is up to the courts to make the decision for you and you can ask them to make a ‘financial order’. Divorces, even those that are amicable, can take four to six months to complete and can be much longer if a financial settlement cannot be reached.
Selling a property during a divorce or separation, can be a stressful experience and the added pressure and uncertainty of whether you can keep the house, can often cause anxiety and worry for many, especially if the circumstances are not amicable. If you can not reach a mutual decision and need to sell your property as a result of a divorce, then Spring are on hand to offer advice and a solution that works for you. Our dedicated team have many years experience in helping people sell their home as part of a divorce, or for those facing the prospect of repossession, providing certainty and the closure many people need to be able to move on with the next stage of their lives.
Your financial rights after a divorce
When getting divorced, as we mentioned earlier, all financial assets will need to be divided up. These include but are not limited to; pensions, property, savings and investments. Assets such as your partners state pension or private pension may also be factored into the equation.
As the home can be the biggest asset, deciding what to do, who lives there or whether it is sold or not can be very complicated. Whatever option you take, the property will need to be valued to assess its worth.
You have several choices for your property when getting divorced, including:
- Both move out, sell the property and then split the proceeds.
- Both agree to keep the house, one person stays in the property, and the other moves out into new accommodation. Even though one moves out, they do not lose their stake in the property. Many families choose this option if viable, as it can result in the least amount of upheaval and disruption for their children. You can apply for a ‘Mesher Order’, which prevents the property being sold till dependants reach the age of 18. Once the children become 18, this could be the time to then sell the home and finally divide the asset.
- You can buy your partner’s share of the property and take full ownership. This will depend on your own income and financial independence; bank, mortgage providers or independent financial advisors can advise on this for you.
How your home is divided up depends on a number of factors, such as who is listed on the title deeds - the legal document that proves who owns the property.
If you are both named on the title deeds, this means you both own the property and is called a ‘joint tenancy’ ownership as you own the property together, but you each own a specific share of the property and this is called ‘tenants in common’. The government site has helpful information on how you can find out the type of joint ownership on your property
What happens to the mortgage payments on a house during divorce?
If you have a joint mortgage, talk to your bank or mortgage lender as soon as possible and notify them of your situation. Early conversations will help and they are well versed and experienced in this type of situation, so can offer guidance and advice based on your needs.
Even if you or your partner have decided to move out of the marital home, both parties remain responsible for the monthly mortgage payments and any other joint outgoings on the home, such as bills, debts, or loans. It is important to keep paying these joint outgoings, as your home could be at risk if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other loans that are secured against it. Not meeting your monthly mortgage payments could affect your ability to get a new mortgage on a future property, or you could be faced with repossession of your property.
How can Spring help with your housing rights after a divorce?
Due to the length of time it can take to finalize a divorce - as there is no such thing as a ‘quickie’ divorce - when the divorce is granted and if selling your home is the decision you have both reached, then Spring can help. Spring’s home buying service has the ability to purchase homes quickly and easily, and unlike an estate agent, you avoid any further delays on the open market, enabling you to sell up and move on with your life much quicker.
Spring can provide a simple, easy and quick resolution for you. We understand the difficulties you may be facing and can purchase your property in as little as 7 days and work to your agreed time frame, allowing you greater control over your finances and the ability to plan.
No matter what you decide, it's important to try and seek a healthy and amicable divorce and communicate throughout as much as possible so a fair and positive outcome for all parties can be reached.
Can I sell my house quickly during a divorce?
Once your divorce is final and you have reached an agreement to sell, yes you can sell your property. Spring can advise on what the next steps are and discuss how our home buying service can help you.
In a divorce with children involved, who gets the house?
There is no simple framework for a divorce and who gets the house when children are involved. Usually the primary caregiver remains in the marital home with the children, but each case is unique and can vary.
What are my rights to stay in a house during a divorce?
Both partners have ‘divorce rights’ to stay in the home until the divorce is settled. Neither party can be forced to leave - both have rights, even if ‘unreasonable behaviour’ has been cited. Knowing your divorce rights is important and the Government has helpful information on their website to guide you through the divorce process.
Click here for more information regarding property and divorce.