Divorce and the Family Home

16 Feb 2021 | Lisa Pepper

What happens to the family house in a divorce?

For separating and divorcing couples, the family home is often the most valuable asset. Deciding if/when to sell it is frequently a major issue to resolve.

One option is to agree to continue to own the property for a period of time, say, until the children have finished school.  This arrangement is often reflected in a Trust Property Deed.  It is important to set out the terms of that continued ownership and occupation in a legally binding way, for both parties.  Some initial considerations with regards to this arrangement are set out below.

The Trust Property Deed would cover matters such as:

  • The choice and location of the property and defining the type of property to be purchased.
  • Who pays the purchase costs.
  • Who the trustees are, their charges and the mechanism for changing them.
  • Is there provision for an alternative replacement property to be purchased if the Occupying Parent (OP) wanted to move.
  • Terms of occupation.
  • Dealing with a change of circumstances (for example, whether a sale is triggered if the OP remarries or cohabits or the child moves to live with the other parent).
  • Who pays for external and internal repairs and decoration.
  • Who pays any mortgage, service charges and ground rent.
  • Who pays insurance and tax expenses.
  • Who pays the utilities, Council tax, internet.
  • Whether the OP should provide an account of expenditure.
  • Whether the OP can buy the other parent out at the end of the term

The creation of a Trust property gives rise to tax and therefore it is important that clients have that advice early on, to factor that into their financial discussions.  At Osbornes Law, we have strong professional relationships with trusted firms of accountants who can provide this advice quickly and cost-effectively.

There are alternative ways that a property can be held, by way of  Charge, Lease or Tenancy Agreement. We provide our solicitor experts in our Private Client Team and Property Team, to work with your Family Law Solicitor to advise on alternatives and enable the creation of a legal structure that is right for you and your family.

If you would like to have a confidential discussion about divorce or separation with divorce lawyer Lisa Pepper, or another member of the Family Law team call 0207 485 8811 or complete an online enquiry form.

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