The breakdown of a relationship is an emotional and stressful time. Dealing with the practicalities of separation, such as deciding what to do with your home, can be complicated — especially if there are children involved.
Our team of property experts at House Buyer Bureau have compiled this guide to help you through the process of selling a house after divorce.
Who Gets the House in a Divorce?
A house is not automatically split 50/50 between a divorcing couple, even if it is jointly owned. The courts will take into consideration a wide range of factors when deciding how the property should be shared and who is allowed to remain, such as:
- Are there any children under 18 and who will they live with?
- Your individual incomes and financial commitments after the divorce.
- What financial contributions and assets each party made to the marriage.
The courts will always favour the interests of any children (aged under 18) involved and will seek to maintain as much stability as possible for them. An arrangement that requires the children to change schools or leave friends behind will be less likely to succeed than one that maintains the status quo.
If possible, it’s much better to reach an amicable agreement about living arrangements and how to divide your assets. This will save both parties time, money and stress. If there are children involved, the more civil and hassle-free the process is, the easier it will be for them to adjust to your new arrangements.
Do I Have to Sell the House after a Divorce?
When deciding what to do with the family home, the most common options chosen by divorcing couples are:
- Sell the House and Divide the Proceeds — both parties move out and start again elsewhere using their share of the proceeds. How much each person gets can be agreed amicably or with recourse to professional advice and ultimately, the family court system.
- One Partner Buys the Other Out — if one of you has the means to pay the other their share of the equity in the property — or whatever sum is deemed reasonable — ownership can be transferred to the remaining occupant. The partner who stays in the home must also have the means to maintain and run the property on their own. Selling is a more popular option as few individuals can afford a family home by themselves.
- Delaying the Sale — the separating couple may decide to sell the property after a certain event has taken place, for example, the youngest child turning 18. The courts can also enforce such an agreement via a “Mesher Order”. A “Martin Order” also delays the sale but it allows one partner to remain in the home for life or until they remarry.
- Transfer an Interest in the Home — one partner remains in the home and the other moves out, but they retain an interest in the property so that when it is eventually sold, they will be entitled to a share of the proceeds.
If you can’t reach an agreement with your ex-partner, the family court will reach a decision. They have the authority to enforce the sale of a property in certain circumstances.
Can I Sell My House before the Divorce?
If you are on good terms with your ex-partner, selling before the divorce is finalised can give you a headstart in reaching an agreement about your arrangements post-divorce — if you sell the family home you could have the finances in place to buy your own pad.
All of which will help everyone involved to move on from the stress and emotions of the separation as quickly as possible.
How to Sell Your House Quickly after Divorce
If you agree to sell the family home — or a court orders you to do so — there are several options available to you.
You could sell on the open market via an estate agent. However, the traditional route of house selling takes an average of 4.2 months — from the first day of marketing to completion. Under current market conditions, with people rushing to beat the stamp duty deadline and demand outstripping supply, transactions are often taking a month longer to complete. If you’re in a rush to sell up and move on, you might want to explore alternative options:
- Traditional Auction — the bidding must meet the property’s reserved price to sell. If an acceptable offer is received, the buyer must complete on the sale within 28 days.
- Modern Auction — this offers a slightly more flexible option for the buyer. The auction is carried out online. When a successful bid is made the buyer pays a non-refundable reservation fee — up to 5% of the purchase price — and must then exchange contracts within 28 days. They have a further 28 days to complete on the sale.
- Quick House Sale Company — this is the only way to secure a guaranteed sale. A reputable quick house sale company will have the funds ready to buy your property in a matter of weeks. House Buyer Bureau can buy any type of property in any condition in England and Wales (and some parts of Scotland) in as little as seven days.