In the majority of divorce cases, the family home is the most significant matrimonial asset. When children are involved, the courts will do everything possible to ensure their wellbeing both during and after a divorce, and where they live will play a vital role.
A divorce can be a stressful and emotionally challenging time for children, which makes it all the more important for them to have a place where they feel safe. As a result, establishing who gets the house in a divorce with children is a crucial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In this post, we talk about how the court decides who will get the family home in divorce cases involving children.
Children Are the Top Priority
There are no set rules that determine what happens to the family home during a divorce, as this can depend on several factors, the most important of which is whether you have children. The law in England and Wales prioritises the welfare of any children involved, so when deciding who gets the house in a divorce with children, the court will first make sure that children will be in a secure home and that their quality of life is impacted as little as possible.
Often, the parent considered to be the primary caregiver (responsible for the day-to-day care of the children) will be entitled to live in the family home, so who gets the house is closely linked to child custody. By taking this approach, the court hopes to minimise disruption.
Not being granted the family home doesn’t mean a spouse is automatically written off the property deed or exempt from paying the mortgage. There are alternative arrangements that can be made regarding the finances tied up in the property, which can be finalised by the court in a Property Order.
An example might be that a parent is permitted to live in the family home with the children up until a certain time, such as when their youngest child turns 18. After this — or after the event that has been agreed — the house will be sold and the proceeds divided as stated by the Court Order. Alternatively, the property may be transferred into one person’s name, with the spouse receiving an agreed percentage when the property is sold.
Certain preparations can also be made if you rent a property, as it is possible for the court to transfer a Joint Tenancy into one party’s name. If you are a homeowner, the mortgage is another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration. It’s common for the parent leaving the family home to want to be released from the mortgage, which gives them more financial standing to purchase a new property or make alternative accommodation arrangements.
In these cases, it’s imperative to consider whether the person remaining in the family home can afford the mortgage payments independently. If they can’t, funds may be payable as part of spousal maintenance to accommodate mortgage costs.
Seek the Advice of an Experienced Family Lawyer
When it comes to deciding who gets the home in a divorce with children, your first step should always be to seek the advice of a specialist family lawyer. As a parent, your number one priority will be to make sure that your children are looked after both during and after proceedings — and to achieve this, you’ll need a legal professional who has experience and expertise in such matters.
Finding a divorce solicitor who is highly skilled and adopts an approach that suits your unique circumstances is vital. This will give you the peace of mind that your family lawyer is good at what they do and has your best interests in mind. They’ll also be able to provide you with crucial advice throughout the divorce process should any other conflicts arise.
Want to learn more about who gets the house in a divorce with children or the division of assets in general? Get in touch with KMJ Solicitors today to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced divorce lawyers.