Divorce or separation will always result in many tough conversations and decisions you and your spouse must make. For example, you may have questions about your home – who will get the house? Are you going to sell through an agent or settle for an auction? Knowledge is power, so it’s always a good idea to be aware of the many available options during this emotional and stressful time. We go over the fundamentals of dealing with the situation, including some suggestions for dividing the house and dealing with mortgage payments after the divorce.
Selling your house during a divorce:
Whether or not there are minors (children) involved, this is undoubtedly a stressful time for both of you. If you’re considering selling the marital home, you should think carefully about your arrangements and evaluate your options.
Getting the right advice:
First and foremost, we would strongly advise speaking with a specialist family law solicitor. Make sure to use a firm registered with both the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. These organisations are beneficial, but be aware of the high fees and avoid paying for unnecessary advice.
Do you have to sell your house if you get divorced?
No, not always. As discussed further below, there are numerous options for dealing with the property once you’ve decided to divorce.
- Instead of selling, one of you could stay in the house. You can then reach an appropriate agreement regarding the future sale of the home.
- You can postpone your decision until your mortgage is paid off or your children are older.
- You could pass the property on to your children when they reach the appropriate age.
- Selling now might be a better option, especially if you both want to start over.
- You may be able to take advantage of an upswing in the market (and pull out more money). When the housing market is slow, it is always more challenging to sell.
Finally, it comes down to deciding what you both want to do. Again, we emphasise that you should avoid having these things taken to court as the costs of doing so are truly astounding.
Is it better to sell a home before or after a divorce?
Another decision that only you and your spouse can make is when to sell your house, and this is determined by the type of relationship you maintain with your spouse. Always keep in mind that making arrangements for your children is also a significant consideration.
Selling before the divorce:
If you decide to sell the marital property before the divorce, you are in charge and can choose the best course of action. Once the house is sold, you can both take your agreed-upon shares from the sale proceeds and make a clean break.
Selling after the divorce:
Selling after a divorce may cause confusion and possibly a lack of motivation for your spouse to leave as one of you may change your mind, your life may change, or things may become complicated. At the same time, if you don’t want to disrupt your children’s lives, this is an entirely understandable course of action.
Understanding and protecting your property rights
It is in both of your best interests to protect your property rights. This means that neither partner can sell, transfer, or increase the mortgage without informing the other.
This also means that neither of you can be forced to leave the property.
Can the judge force you to sell?
The simple answer is yes.
If your case has already gone to court, the judge will consider all of the circumstances. This could include:
- If you and your partner bought the house together;
- The value of the home’s equity;
- The ages of the children you’ve had together;
- Who will be the primary caregiver for the children after the divorce;
- The future well-being of your children (ensuring they have a safe place to live);
- The reasons for the divorce;
- Incomes and financial circumstances following the divorce and to determine if selling makes sense.
The role of the judge is to think objectively and within the parameters of the law, and if the court rules that the house must be sold, both you and your spouse must comply. You can choose to appeal, but you need to remember that the costs will quickly add up.
Dividing a house in a divorce:
The decision to keep the house is often influenced by a variety of financial and practical considerations. One of the most important is whether there is a mortgage (and how much remains, if so).
There are also many other (often unexpected) factors to consider. Some examples are:
- The duration of your marriage and your respective ages;
- Your personal income, earning capacity, and other financial responsibilities;
- Whether there are minor children and who will care for them after the divorce;
- The origins of the couple’s assets. For example, if you originally purchased the property and became the marital home, the financial distribution may be affected.
- Whether or not the property’s ownership is divided. If so, what were the shares when you first purchased them?
- Other assets and business interests that either of you owns;
- The overall health of both spouses.
Ultimately, it comes down to affordability and the amount of equity you have in your marital home.
How to sell your house post-divorce:
If the house sale is part of the divorce settlement, you may need to consider the best way to proceed. In this final section, we highlight the main channels you could explore:
Using an Estate Agent
If time is not an issue, approaching an estate agent is the best way to get the best price. On the negative side, agency sales often take a lot longer and have the added stresses of viewings, vast amounts of paperwork, and time factor uncertainty during the entire process.
Selling at auction
If you want to sell your house quickly, putting it up for auction is a good option. Over the last few decades, auction houses have broadened their scope to include all types of properties, and you can rest assured that once the hammer falls, the buyer must proceed. Withdrawing will result in severe financial penalties.
Quick house sale company
If you want a quick and easy sale, a company like British Homebuyers may be a good option for you. The majority of firms in our industry will pay your legal fees, and you won’t have to pay estate agency fees because it’s a private sale. The trade-off is that the purchase price is likely to be around 75% of the current market value. Most people will want to conduct a formal valuation (with the help of a surveyor) and base the purchase price on that.