Whilst a lot of divorces involve just one property – the former matrimonial home, some divorces involve multiple properties. These could be:
Any such properties could be owned either in the parties’ joint names or in the sole name of one party.
When all properties are jointly owned by the parties, the Court’s approach will usually be a straightforward approach of valuing all of the properties and deducting any mortgages or charges registered against such properties to result in the net equity figure. The net equity figure will then be divided between the parties, possibly in equal shares, possibly unequal.
Certain factors such as the parties’ needs and contributions are considered when deciding whether the shares should be unequal.
In other cases, one or more properties may be owned in one of the party’s sole names, or perhaps in joint names with a third party.
In these circumstances arguments regarding non-matrimonial property can be raised by the party who owns the property registered in their sole name. Arguments regarding non-matrimonial property are simply not appropriate in small money cases i.e. when the available assets combined are not sufficient to meet both parties’ financial needs. However, in larger money cases where the combined parties’ financial needs are less than the overall assets, arguments regarding non-matrimonial property can be pursued.
The basic approach adopted by the Courts is that if it is possible to meet the parties’ needs from matrimonial property and other matrimonial assets, there may be no need to look at non-matrimonial property. The effect of this is that a party with non-matrimonial property can receive a share somewhat in excess of 50% of all assets. In any arguments regarding matrimonial/non-matrimonial property, there is likely to be a detailed examination of when the party in question acquired the property, possibly by inheritance, and the Courts have also developed a concept of mingling where non-matrimonial property is mixed with matrimonial property. This is a specialist area and one on which you will require expert advice.
Another aspect of sharing properties may be when the properties are primarily an income source via rental income. Division of such properties either equally or unequally can be a tool used by the Court to ensure that both parties have a future income sufficient to meet their financial needs.
Another important point is obtaining accurate valuations for all properties in question. Estate agents are generally happy to provide market appraisals, but if multiple market appraisals are obtained it is not uncommon for there to be a massive variation in such market appraisals. The Court’s approach is to direct the instruction of what is known as a single joint expert to provide a valuation for properties. This generally results in a more realistic valuation of properties and avoids the problems associated with each of the party’s obtaining multiple market appraisals at different figures.
Finally, it should be noted that it is not possible to advise on properties in isolation. When financial matters within divorce are resolved, various factors are examined including property assets, other assets, earnings capacity, pensions, the duration of the marriage, contributions and the needs of the parties.
We will go through your finances in detail and will provide you with a tailored plan of action based on your own unique situaton. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.