The financial arrangements - The matrimonial home

`Matrimonial home' is a term used to describe a home which is owned or rented by either or both spouses and lived in during the course of the marriage by the family.

Who lives in the matrimonial home prior town agreement -

being reached or an order made?

There are no set rules to follow regarding who remains in the matrimonial home and who goes, pending an agreement as to what is to be done with it. It depends very much on individual circumstances, although it is fair to say that if there are children involved, the court gives first consideration to the welfare of the children.

So it is more than likely that they will stay in the home with the parent who generally looks after them.

It is quite possible for both spouses to continue living in the same property for some period pending an agreement as to what is to happen to the matrimonial home or an order of the court relating to the home.

It is possible, although fairly unusual, for the parties to be divorced whilst still living under the same roof, albeit separately.

Dealing with the privately-owned matrimonial home on separation or divorce

The matrimonial home tends to be the main family asset in most cases and there are three methods of dealing with it on a separation and divorce.

(a) The home can be sold and the proceeds of sale divided by agreement or by order of the court;

(b) The ownership of the home can be transferred from one spouse to another outright;

(c) The sale of the home can be postponed until a later date when the proceeds will be divided in the proportions agreed.

There are no set rules or guidelines as to whether the house is to be sold, ownership transferred, or sale postponed.

Nor are there any set guidelines as to the proportion in which the proceeds of sale should be divided. The disposal or division of the matrimonial home will depend on the circumstances of the family, the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, the age and number of children and any other relevant factors.

On separation or divorce the primary issue is working out a way of housing the family in two households as opposed to one.

Where the property is held in joint names and in the absence of a written statement declaring that the owners hold the beneficial interest in the property in unequal proportions each party is strictly entitled to 50% of the equity, that is the balance of the value of the property after deducting the amount of the outstanding mortgage and possibly any other charge registered on the property.

However, in reality, and particularly where there are children involved, the court must decide whether it would be fair and just for the equity to be divided equally, given that both parties must be re=housed and one party will certainly have to re=house the children as well.

Where the house is in a spouse's sole name, let us say the husband's, the wife under the matrimonial law will generally have a claim to part of the equity but this will depend again on all the circumstances: length of the marriage, number of children, age of parties, wife's contribution (whether in money terms or otherwise).

The needs of the family and the resources available to provide these needs will always be the deciding factor.

KIRSTY APP on divorce - Next:

The financial arrangements - Sale of the home

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