When you get a divorce, if you own a house together, this is one of the main assets that will need to be resolved in the financial separation. Each court decision is made around the specific situation and a number of factors will be taken into account. These are the top factors that the decision will be based around:
If there are children involved in the divorce, the decision will be influenced by the age of the children and who they will be primarily living with. Usually, if children are aged under 18, a court will rule that they can live in the house with the parent that is their primary carer until they are 18.
The court may decide that the children remain in the property until they are 18 and then at that time, the house will be sold to split the finances. In some cases, the house ownership may be transferred to the parent who is primarily caring for the children, with other financial assets being awarded to the other parent to split the overall assets evenly.
The length of the marriage
Another factor that will be considered is how long the marriage has lasted and what the value of the assets were before and after the marriage. If the marriage has been short and one person owned the property prior to the marriage, then the split of assets could be more favourable to that person.
Earning potential and financial contribution
The court will also usually look at how much each person earns and what financial contribution they each have made during the marriage. If one person sacrificed their career to look after their children, this impacts their earning potential, so assets could be split to recognise this financial disadvantage.
If one person can afford to buy the house out from the other person, this is usually a quicker option than either selling the property or waiting until children turn 18 before selling the property, so this is one option for consideration by both parties.
Can I transfer assets to a family member?
Both parties are obliged to disclose assets fully and frankly and transferring assets to a family member or third party without disclosing it is regarded as hiding assets. If hidden assets are discovered during the divorce process, the guilty party can get punished by the court. Possible punishments include paying the full legal costs for both parties and getting a less favourable settlement than they would have had. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you don’t transfer assets to a family member.
Who stays in the house during the divorce?
If you bought the home together, both parties are legally entitled to stay in the home. Obviously, this might not be ideal if the divorce is not amicable. It might take a while for the divorce settlement to go through or for the house sale to go through, so many people will decide that one party will move out.
Generally, the person who moves out will be the one that is not the primary carer of the children. If there are no children involved, the divorcing couple will need to try and agree on the best solution between them.
It is recommended that you seek legal advice before you leave your marital home, as once you have moved out, you may need to pay for the mortgage as well as for a new place to live. You also need to remember that the divorce could take a long time to resolve, so moving out can leave you in a difficult situation.