September 2016

Who gets the house?

If you’re embarking on a separation or divorce, one of the first questions you and your spouse may ask is, ‘what will happen to the family home?’ For many families, negotiating property and living arrangements will be one of the biggest financial decisions in the divorce settlement.

In the first instance of separation, we advise couples to identify all of the assets you will have to divide between you. Property is regarded by the law as a ‘marital asset’ no matter whose name it is in, so remember to include property that you own individually and/or jointly, as well as all of the relevant documentation.

The next step would be to have any property valued by a professional and work out what financial resources you can put towards new living arrangements.

David Bremner, a financial planner who specialises in matrimonial work with Intelligent Capital and is a member of Consensus Collaboration Scotland, advises divorcing couples to consider the following options for dividing property:

  • One spouse leaves: if financial resources are healthy enough, ideally the original family home would be kept and a new home found for the other spouse. If this is your chosen route consider what will happen to the mortgage. It may be that one spouse ‘buys out’ the other.
  • Both spouses leave: another approach would be to sell the home and divide the resulting assets in a way that is fair, and both spouses find new living arrangements.

David continues “whichever decision you make, the most important priorities are the needs of any children involved in the separation. Children need to have a ‘family home’ with each parent and the process must disrupt them as little as possible to ensure they are settled and happy.”

“It is also paramount that couples are realistic and fair to each other about their current and potential situation to prevent any financial struggles in the future. Make sure you consider all of the ramifications of your decision, both financial (including travel expenses from a new location) and the effect on your children (would they be much further from their school, sports clubs and friends, making it difficult to adjust?)”

Remember, there is not a standard formula for calculating a fair division of assets. The agreed outcome depends entirely on your own particular circumstances and needs. There is not a set calculation.

Dividing these assets is a complex and significant decision, with many options available. As a financial neutral, your Consensus Collaboration Scotland financial planner will generate different options for you and bring you, your former partner and your family lawyers together to present them and explain the pros and cons of each. This will provide you with a good platform to make informed decisions.

A Consensus Collaboration Scotland financial planner’s aim is to ensure that you make good financial choices, for now and the future. Working alongside lawyers and family consultants, we seek to minimise conflict in your separation and reduce longer term emotional damage.

If you would like further information or assistance with your divorce finances, please contact a Consensus Collaboration Scotland professional.

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