The first thing to know is that ownership doesn’t specifically matter in a divorce; the house is usually considered a marital asset, which means that you both have a right to the property. It tends to be easiest to sell the house and split the proceeds, but there are a few things that you should think about before you go ahead-
Do you have a comfortable amount in your savings?
How much equity is in the house?
Can you afford a new mortgage?
You will need to consider the best course of action if there is still a mortgage to pay off for the house. If you sell the house and use the proceeds to pay off the mortgage, along with the legal fees from the sale and your divorce, how much will there be leftover? That remainder will need to be enough to fund both you and your partner for a new residence, and if there is little left afterwards you may have to rethink.
Do you have to sell the house?
When there are children involved, it can sometimes be best to keep the marital home for consistency and peace, especially if they’re younger children. If it’s decided that this is going to be the best way forward for you in your situation, you can either-
Buy out your ex-partner’s share of the property if you can afford to do so, or, if you’re not in the financial position to do this, they can transfer ownership to you but keep interest on the house, essentially meaning that when you do sell the house in the future they receive their share then.
What about changing the mortgage?
If you have come to an agreement that one of you is keeping the house, then you can take the other person off the mortgage. This can be beneficial, for example, if you’re the one moving out and you want to look at taking out another mortgage for your own property, then having your name taken off the previous property’s mortgage can allow you to borrow a higher amount for your new home.
It also means that you don’t have any connection if there are any delayed payments for the property that you’ve moved away from, so if your ex-partner stops paying the mortgage you aren’t held accountable.
Along with that, you’re able to break the link between you and your ex-partner’s credit files, so if they have any debt it shouldn’t affect you in the future.
What do the courts consider when choosing who gets the house?
If you end up in court to decide who the house goes to, several things will be taken into consideration before a decision is reached. The decision will depend on;
The income and earning capacity of you and your ex-partner
Any financial needs and responsibilities, such as children under 18
Your standard of living before the divorce
The age of you and your partner, and the length of your marriage
Any physical or mental disability you or your partner may have
The contributions each of you made to the welfare of the family; this doesn’t just mean financial, so includes caring for children
Conduct in court of you and your partner.
After this has been deliberated, the courts can issue a decision on whether you sell the property and split the proceeds, one partner transfers legal ownership to the other, or, especially when young children are involved, decree that the home will be sold when the youngest child turns 18 and at this point the proceeds are split.