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What to Do with the Family Home?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 4 Aug 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Dealing With The Family Home After

One of the most traumatic aspects of a divorce is deciding what to do with the family home. This would once have been a place filled with laughter and joy and would have provided you with a sense of security but now it simply becomes a financial asset which has to be dealt with and can be one of the most difficult things to deal with on top of all the other issues surrounding a marriage break-up.

There are several options that you may wish to consider in deciding what to do with the marital home.

One Person Remains in the Home

Who gets to stay in the house will depend on the mortgage and if it is in single or joint names and whether or not the person who intends to stay in the home can afford to pay the mortgage on their own. If the house is in joint names then it is up to one partner to buy out the equity of the other. However, this will mean higher mortgage repayments so it’s only an option if the person staying can afford to do this. There are a number of lenders who specialise in refinancing a mortgage in divorce cases but it’s also necessary to incorporate costs into the financial equation as the house will need an updated valuation so there will be new title deeds and survey costs with the associated legal fees which accompany that.

The benefit of one person remaining in the home is that there will be less upheaval in terms of having to move out and to try to arrange another buyer. This option is often the preferred choice if you have children as it is less disruptive to them. It will also make it easier for the person staying to keep in touch with friends, get to work just as easily and allows any children to stay in their own school.

The disadvantage, however, is that the home might be too expensive for you to run on your own and maybe too big and difficult to manage. It will also hold many memories both good and bad which will make it more difficult to move on with your life. And, if your ex has been violent towards you in the past, it may not be a safe option as they will know where you live.

Selling the Home and Splitting the Proceeds

In many cases, it’s simply not financially viable for either partner to stay in the marital home and, of course, neither of them may want to do that anyway, so the easiest option then is to sell the home, split any profits once the outstanding mortgage has been paid and then both move on. The main advantage is that everybody has a clean break and can simply pick up their lives elsewhere. However, one of the problems which particularly affects those who have not built up sufficient equity in the time since they bought the house often means that they’re unable to finance a new sole mortgage and may have to look for rented accommodation. Also, the proceeds from the sale of a property may not necessarily mean that it’s divided 50-50. If no agreement can be met, you’ll need to seek legal advice and there are numerous factors which can go towards one partner receiving a greater share of the proceeds of the house sale than the other so you should have all the legal facts to hand before working out if this is a viable solution for you. However, in many cases, it is the only option left available.

Keeping Things as They are for the Sake of the Children

Depending on the state of the finances of the person moving out and their willingness to co-operate with their ex, another option would be to consider maintaining the status quo with regards to ownership of the property and move out whilst letting your ex remain in the marital home with the children. Divorce can be very traumatic for children too, especially younger ones, so it may be worth exploring this option if you don’t wish to cause any more upset to the children. Usually, it’s only a temporary arrangement until the children are older or until the person staying behind either decides to move on or is eventually able to buy the other person out.

It’s not an easy option as the person moving out will have to still keep paying their share of the mortgage (or financially contributing to the mortgage in some way) and will also need to find sufficient money for their own accommodation needs. However, whilst this is an honourable option to take, providing it’s financially possible, it can place the person moving out at risk as they could also be liable for any debts or judgements which are taken out against any joint ownership agreement, even after they have moved out.

Another option is to sell the property and for one of you to rent it back whilst the other moves out. This allows you to get cash which is tied up in the equity and gives you some breathing space to plan your next moves whilst you rent the property for as long as you need to. A further option would be to both remain in the property but live separate lives until the time is right for one or both of you to move out. Neither are ideal solutions for the long term but may be the only viable options you have in the short-term until you’re able to consider other options.

If no agreement on the house can be reached, however, the most important thing you should both do is to seek legal advice in order to try to find the most suitable solution.

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Jobby10 - Your Question:
My husband was previously married. They sepearated over 7 years ago and he moved out of the marital home. His ex has always stayed in the home with their now 9 year old son. Over 3 years ago she moved another man into the home, without telling my husband, and he only found out through his son. He has always paid his fair share of maintenance and when they had joint debts of over £40,000 he took them on and paid them all off. His ex wife is now pregnant by this other man. when my husband asked to come off the mortgage she said no and she cannot get it on her own and her new man does not want to go on the mortgage with her. My husband has now asked her to sell the house, as he no longer wants to be associated with it, and cannot be added onto my mortgage until he is off that one. Is there anything we can do legally to force the sale of the house? she is being very unco-operative and has caused issues from the start of our relationship 5 years ago.

Our Response:
Your husband would ahve to seek legal advice regarding this. It's a tricky situation, but it may actually work better for your husband in terms of trying to negotiate a way out than it would if his ex had remained single. However, if his ex will not negotiate, he may have to apply through the courts.
DivorceResource - 5-Aug-16 @ 10:48 AM
My husband was previously married.They sepearated over 7 years ago and he moved out of the marital home.His ex has always stayed in the home with their now 9 year old son.Over 3 years ago she moved another man into the home, without telling my husband, and he only found out through his son.He has always paid his fair share of maintenance and when they had joint debts of over £40,000 he took them on and paid them all off.His ex wife is now pregnant by this other man.when my husband asked to come off the mortgage she said no and she cannot get it on her own and her new man does not want to go on the mortgage with her.My husband has now asked her to sell the house, as he no longer wants to be associated with it, and cannot be added onto my mortgage until he is off that one.Is there anything we can do legally to force the sale of the house?.she is being very unco-operative and has caused issues from the start of our relationship 5 years ago.
Jobby10 - 4-Aug-16 @ 10:33 AM
@madkat73 - did he tell you that you were not entitled? I should seek legal advice from a solicitor. Unless your divorce was a 'clean break', if you have not yet to come to a formal arrangement in relation to the finances then you should still be entitled to part of the estate, but that would be up for the court to decide when it comes to further distributing your joint assets. I hope that helps.
DivorceResource - 2-Feb-15 @ 2:30 PM
Ex, me and 2 daughters moved to France in Oct2012. Bought a house with my exs inheritance money from his grandfather. He then left in March 2013 as he couldnt handle France then in September announced he wanted a divorce as he was seeing someone else. He divorced me on my unreasonable behaviour! I am now very happily living with someone else since Dec 2014 and our house is up for sale. Been told I am not entitled to anything from it as I am now living with someone else. My ex pays no maintenance, hardy contacts our daughters, has been to see them once in 18 months. I support them on my own and I worked for 2 years on our house increasing the value by 34,000 to be told to walk away with nothing whilst he has the life of riley and keeps a home that I worked on Its in joint names too....Help..
madkat73 - 31-Jan-15 @ 2:48 PM
My brother in law owns his property outright, and has no debts against the property,his wife and daughter are still in the house as he is in prison,what rights has she got to the marital home? She has not paid anything towards the upkeep or bills since she moved in!also she has moved another man into his home in his abscense, can she do this? Bottom line we need this sorted as soon as we can!
Tim - 8-Oct-14 @ 5:09 PM
i am in a secure mental health setting. my marriage of 20yrs has broken down, but we cannot afford to move into seperate housing.what are my options available? can we continue to live together for the sake of the children and because of finical difficulties we both would have to face? the new legal aid bill means it's impossiable to get a divorce, what can we do?
shaz - 17-Mar-13 @ 4:04 PM
I let my ex keep the house so my son could grow up in the same place and not experience the trauma of moving. She didn’t buy me out as the sum involved was pretty nominal far less than my share was worth. However, we part and have stayed on good terms, so for me it was probably the right thing to do, even if I could have used the money.
Chris - 10-Oct-12 @ 11:51 AM
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