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Selling Property Before Divorce Settlement UK or After

Should I Be Selling My House After Or Before Divorce?

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Are you trying to sell a house before or after a divorce and wondering how does a divorce house split work?

We know a divorce can be a difficult time for all involved, that is why here at The Property Buying Company we do all we can to make the selling process easy and as simple as possible, our motto, selling made easy!

In this article we will go through the entire process of selling your house during a divorce.

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Selling property before divorce settlement

It is crucial to consult a reputable family law solicitor specializing in property matters. Choose a firm registered with the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority. However, exercise caution to avoid excessive fees and unnecessary advice.

Utilize Free Resources: Online platforms like The Money Advice Service, Citizens Advice, and Gov.UK offer valuable information on divorce proceedings at no cost. However, complexities may arise if:

  • There is a significant income disparity between spouses.

  • Long-term marriage with shared assets, including property.

  • Complicated financial affairs.

  • Post-divorce income generation becomes challenging.

  • Dependent children are involved.

  • Financial inequalities existed before the divorce.

  • One spouse faces financial hardships due to a medical condition post-divorce.

A divorce house split is rarely easy – we get that. Especially if one of you is eager to get selling the house before divorce, while the other wants to wait and sell the house after.

Heck, sometimes your partner may not even want to sell, which could make the job of releasing your equity slightly more complex. With over 107,000 divorces going through in 2019, the issue of a divorce house split is sadly becoming all the more common.

Therefore, being well equipped to deal with all the twists, turns and technicalities ahead is essential, as with divorce house sale, there’s many.

So many that you’re probably reading this because your mind is crammed with questions like: How is equity split in a divorce? Who pays capital gains tax after divorce? Can you sell a house if one partner refuses? And if we do agree to sell, what’s the easiest way of selling a house in a divorce?

Well, if that’s the case, keep reading, as we’re not only going to reveal the answer to the ‘sell house before or after divorce’ debate, but also give you some expert guidance on how to get your property sold fast.

How is equity split in a divorce?

When divorcing or ending a civil partnership equity, particularly home equity, is split depending on the situation between you and your partner.

If you and your partner are willing to negotiate a split or have come to a divorce agreement, then splitting your equity, including your house, could actually be pretty simple. This route eradicates the need for a court hearing or mediation. Although, you’ll still need to make this agreement legally binding through something called a consent order.

Essentially a posh legal term for the document prepared for your solicitor, outlining the terms of the agreement. This will then be put to the court alongside what’s called a ‘Statement of Information’ form that outlines aspects of your finances like the value of your property, pensions, stocks, bonds and so on.

Can you sell a house if one partner refuses?

In the case you cannot agree on whether you should sell your family home after divorce, the process may not be quite so simple. You see, in order to sell you need both yours and your partner’s signatures. Fail to get these and you’re on a one way ticket to mediation.

If an agreement is reached here you can then get their signature, apply for a consent order and carry on from here. However, if mediation doesn’t work and your ex-partner is still refusing to sell the house, you may have to escalate the case to the court, who can in some circumstances intervene and force the sale of your house.

If this was the case, you’d be given a strict timeframe in which to sell your property and the proceeds would then become part of the split.

But like we say, how easy or hard it would be to sell your house and split your equity during a divorce ultimately depends on your situation. If your ex decides to take an uncooperative tone around other aspects of your divorce besides the sale of house, you may be left straighten out your finances long after your divorce legally goes through.

FYI: Your finances, including the sale of your house and the distribution of your savings etc., are all dealt with separately to the divorce itself. So in legal terms you could be separated, but still left with financial ties.

Going through a divorce and looking to sell?

Do you have to sell your house if you get divorced?

In the event of divorce, the decision to sell the marital house is contingent upon various factors and individual circumstances. It is advisable to consult with a family law solicitor well-versed in property matters to obtain accurate legal guidance tailored to your specific situation.

The court may consider several aspects when determining the division of marital assets, including the property. Factors such as financial contributions, needs of the parties involved, and the welfare of any dependent children may influence the court's decision.

However, selling the house is not always an obligatory outcome. Alternative arrangements, such as one party buying out the other's share or transferring ownership, can be explored depending on the circumstances.

It is crucial to seek professional advice to fully comprehend the legal implications and potential financial ramifications associated with retaining or selling the marital home during the divorce process. A knowledgeable solicitor can provide comprehensive guidance to help you make informed decisions aligned with your best interests and legal obligations.

Who pays capital gains tax after divorce?

Just a heads up, before you dive into our pros and cons of selling your house before or after divorce, it’s important you know this.

On April 6, 2020, the rules around who pays capital gains tax after divorce tightened. Previously, the spouse who moved out of the house would have 18 months in which their share in the property before it would become liable for CGT - currently charged at 28% for any gains off residential property! Now this 18 month period has been reduce to just nine.

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Is it better to sell a home before or after a divorce?

In the event of divorce, the decision to sell the marital house is contingent upon various factors and individual circumstances. It is advisable to consult with a family law solicitor well-versed in property matters to obtain accurate legal guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Selling your house after divorce or before? The pros and cons.

Choosing when to sell your property in a divorce house split is no easy decision. In most cases it's actually a pretty tough one to call, so to ensure you make a well informed decision, here's our pros and cons of selling a house before or after divorce...

Selling house before divorce: the pros

Negotiating who gets what

Selling your house before divorce isn’t a bad idea, especially if you don’t want to get dealt a poor hand last minute. Not only does a pre-divorce house sale allow you to more accurately split your assets, but it also hopefully reduces the amount of disagreements and stress you feel during the process. As we know, situations where the stakes are high that are hemmed by a tight deadline often don’t make for a pretty picture.


Selling your house before divorce also comes with the added perk of time, but not just to negotiate. The time to scout about for an onward purchase, arrange things with your children and of course make sure you’ve dotted the ‘I’s and cross the ‘T’s in terms of the paperwork. Besides, a divorce isn’t something you can rush – usually they take around 4-6 months according to Citizen’s Advice. So, you could say selling your house or at least finding a buyer before you start the proceedings would be a good use of your time.

It doesn’t drag on

As we all know, houses are sizable assets, so selling your house before divorce does mean that the sale won’t hinder your ‘space’ so to speak. You’ll be able to wrap up your past relationship and hopefully kick-start the process of moving on pretty quickly. Something that could be postponed if you’re still in discussions about the house, months, maybe even years after your divorce has gone through. Not ideal.

Capital Gains Tax

Another hidden perk of selling your house before divorce that a lot of couples often forget about is the cruel mistress that is Capital Gains Tax. In case you haven’t read our advice above, CGT is a tax paid when you dispose of an asset that’s appreciated in value. It isn’t cheap either – CGT on a residential property is charged at a whopping 28%!

So in other words, if the value of your property has risen since you first bought it, then you could be liable to pay CGT unless you dispose of your assets to your spouse before your divorce becomes official (i.e. legal). And with the majority of divorces occurring after 12 years of marriage (ONS), there’s a good chance this amount could be pretty large, especially after the COVID house price ‘mini boom’ in 2020.

Selling house before divorce: the cons

FYI: Before putting your house on the market, do a bit of research. Quiz your local estate agents on how fast properties are selling in your area. Wondering how to go about that? Invite a couple of agents around to appraise your property and ask them these 30 questions. We guarantee it'll put a smile on your face!

Housing market hold ups

As you’ve just discovered above, financial factors like CGT and more personal can be a solid reason to sell before divorce, however, don’t be fooled, because there is a flip side.

Just like any market, the housing market has plenty of peaks, but it also comes with a good amount of troughs. Troughs that have the potential to hinder the pace of your sale. So you could well have a property that would sell in a heartbeat for a pretty packet above the asking price if demand was high, but if it was low then you and you could be sat on the housing market for some time and wind up being practically forced to accept a lower offer. An issue that selling direct to a cash house buyer like us can completely eradicate… just saying.

Emotional turmoil

Hey, we get it – for a lot of couples divorce is stressful, and traumatic too. Both emotions that are also associated with selling a property on the open market, so unless you plan on a stress-free sale through a cash buyer like us, you’re probably best holding off.

At such an emotional time in your life, you need to relax and ‘do you’, not be stressing about viewings, offers and the other technicalities of a house sale.

Rash decisions

As great as selling your house before divorce is, it’s important it’s not because of a rash decision. By that we mean a decision that’s been made in the heat of the moment and not properly thought through. So to avoid this from happening, before you do put your property up for sale, ask yourself these 3 questions…

  • Does the home mean anything to me? – If the home holds a special significance, maybe it’s been passed down the family or despite your situation, is what you consider to be the ‘ideal home’. If so, giving it some thought and looking to sell after divorce may be a better option.

  • Would the value increase if I held onto it? – If demand is low in your area, consider if your property would be worth more if you were to keep it. Perhaps playing the long game could pay off?

  • Am I comfortable living here despite my divorce? - Answer “yes” and selling your property before divorce may not be the smartest idea. Although something like this will entirely depend on your situation, plus how and why your relationship ended – but we won’t go into that here.

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Selling house after divorce: the pros

Less awkward moments

It’s no secret that in a good handful of divorces, partners aren’t what you’d call on the best of terms, hence why selling your property after divorce could be a better option.

After divorce, typically the heat of the situation has begun to fade. With less emotions at play, you can often reach a resolution faster and usually in a less stressful manner. Why? Because you’ve both had the time to some extent unpick the connection you previously shared. So when it comes to negotiating who gets what, that’s no longer clouding your vision.

Condition of the market

Contrary to what your local estate agent will tell you, NOW is not always the best time to sell.

If selling your house before divorce would mean it’s sat on the market receiving very little interest because demand is low, then waiting until after divorce probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Heck, even if prices dipped, you’d probably end up achieving pretty much the same price, providing it triggers an increase in demand. But how? Well, the reality is that buyers want what’s hot. So if your property’s not receiving any interest and been on the market a while, in their eyes it’s only worth a cheeky lowball offer.

But ultimately it’s up to you to assess whether this would be a viable strategy.

Time’s on your side

By selling your house after separating from your partner, you have longer to consider your options. After some thought you may actually decide to carry on living in the property.

For instance, if you have children and that’s all they’ve known, it might actually be the best course of action. Plus, if both you and your ex-partner can move on without selling, it could be fashioned into a profitable as a buy to let, providing of course you left on good terms.

Selling house after divorce: the cons

Potential speed bumps

While at the time selling your house after the divorce may seem an appealing prospect, it could in fact become a burden in the future. For anyone going through a divorce, the time afterwards is valuable. It’s a time to cool down, reflect, build yourself back up and muster the confidence to eventually (pardon the cliché) ‘get back out there’. Something you’re unable to do fully if your property is still tying you to your ex-partner.


We mention it a fair bit in this blog, but Capital Gains Tax can be another unfortunate cost of leaving the sale of your house until after your divorce. If your partner isn’t entirely keen on selling the house before you divorce, then it’s important for you to factor in CGT as a potential expense. Useful to know when you’re shopping for your onward purchase.

Should I sell my house before or after divorce?

As you’ve discovered, selling a house when going through a divorce isn’t the easiest thing since sliced bread, neither is it all that pleasant, be it just on the horizon or already in motion. It’s also rather risky.

Put your house on the open market when demand is low or just before a market slump and you risk achieving a lower price, whether that’s via a cheeky offer or being gazundered.

Plus, if your sale doesn’t go through until after divorce, you could also have to factor in CGT, which could drastically affect your offer on your onward purchase.

And even if you do manage to sell early, avoid CGT and achieve a strong price, there’s still all the swings and roundabouts that come with an open market sale for you to negotiate.

Things like viewings, offers, surveys and conveyancing - all tasks that can be made even more difficult by the fact, as a recently divorced couple, you've likely got some conflicting opinions. Something that could pretty easily hike up the difficulty of achieving a sale. Not to say that it can’t be done though.

In fact, if you’ve managed to maintain a somewhat steady relationship with your partner during the divorce, persisting with an open market sale as normal could be the way to go. Although it’s not to say it's the only way to go. There’s a variety of ways in which you can sell a house – so question is now, which is the most suited to a divorce house split?

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What are your property rights

When going through a divorce, it is vital to have a clear understanding of your property rights and take necessary steps to protect them

Engaging the services of an experienced family law solicitor specialising in property matters can greatly assist in this process.

They can provide essential guidance on the following aspects:
  • 1. Knowledge of Legal Entitlements

    A solicitor can help you comprehend your legal entitlements regarding the marital property. This includes understanding the principles of equitable distribution or community property, depending on the jurisdiction.

  • 3. Identification and Valuation of Assets

    It is crucial to identify and assess all assets, including real estate, financial investments, businesses, and personal property. A solicitor can guide you through this process, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation to protect your rights.

  • 3. Property Division Strategies

    Based on the specific circumstances of your case, a solicitor can devise effective strategies to advocate for your fair share of the property division. They can negotiate on your behalf, considering factors such as financial contributions, future needs, and the welfare of any dependent children.

  • 4. Legal Documentation and Contracts

    A solicitor can assist in preparing necessary legal documentation, such as property settlement agreements or consent orders, to formalize the division of assets. This ensures that your rights are protected and reduces the risk of disputes in the future.

  • 5. Protection of Property Interests

    In situations where the marital home is a significant asset, a solicitor can advise on protective measures, such as restraining orders or occupancy arrangements, to safeguard your property interests during the divorce process.

By seeking professional legal guidance, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your property rights, take appropriate steps to protect them, and navigate the complex landscape of property division in divorce proceedings.

What happens in divorce if one person wants to sell house

In divorce proceedings, if one party expresses the desire to sell the marital house while the other opposes it, a solicitor specializing in family law and property matters can guide the clients through the legal process. They will assess the applicable laws, negotiate and mediate between the parties to reach an agreement, and if necessary, represent their client's interests in court. In certain circumstances, the court may order the sale of the house for a fair division of assets.

The solicitor ensures proper distribution of the proceeds, accounting for any outstanding financial obligations. It is essential to seek expert legal advice to navigate the complexities and protect one's rights in such situations.

Who gets the house in a divorce with children?

In a divorce involving children, the question of who gets the house is determined based on several factors, including the best interests of the children and the financial circumstances of the parties involved. A solicitor specializing in family law can provide tailored advice and representation in such cases.

The court typically prioritizes providing a stable and suitable home environment for the children. Depending on the specific circumstances, the house may be awarded to the custodial parent to ensure the children's well-being, taking into account factors such as the children's attachment to the home, proximity to schools and support networks, and the financial capability of the parties to maintain the residence.

It is essential to consult with a solicitor to understand the relevant laws and to advocate for a fair resolution that safeguards the best interests of the children involved.

What is a financial order in a divorce?

In the context of divorce proceedings, a financial order refers to a legally binding document issued by the court that governs the division of financial assets and obligations between the parties involved.

A solicitor specializing in family law can guide individuals through the process of obtaining a financial order. This document sets out the financial arrangements, including the distribution of property, assets, debts, spousal maintenance, child support, and any other relevant financial matters.

A financial order provides clarity and enforceability, ensuring that both parties understand their rights and responsibilities regarding financial matters following the divorce. It is crucial to seek legal advice to navigate the complexities of obtaining a financial order and to secure a fair and equitable resolution in line with the individual's circumstances.

What is a mesher order?

A Mesher Order, in the context of family law, is a type of court order that defers the sale of the family home until a specified triggering event occurs. This order allows the resident parent and any dependent children to remain in the property for a certain period of time, typically until the children reach a certain age or complete their education.

A solicitor specializing in family law can provide guidance on the suitability and implications of a Mesher Order in specific cases. This arrangement aims to provide stability for the children while allowing the property to be sold at a later date, often to facilitate the division of assets or provide financial support.

It is crucial to seek professional legal advice to understand the implications and potential benefits of a Mesher Order in the context of individual circumstances.

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Does length of marriage affect divorce settlement?

The length of the marriage can indeed have an impact on the divorce settlement. In family law, the duration of the marriage is considered a significant factor in determining the division of assets, financial support, and other relevant aspects. Generally, the longer the marriage, the greater the likelihood of a more equal distribution of assets acquired during the marriage.

The court recognizes the contributions made by both parties during a long-term marriage and aims to achieve a fair outcome. However, it is important to note that every case is unique, and other factors such as financial contributions, individual needs, and the welfare of any dependent children also play a crucial role in determining the final divorce settlement.

Seeking professional legal advice from a solicitor experienced in family law is crucial to understand how the length of marriage can specifically impact the settlement in an individual case.

Can a judge force you to sell your house in a divorce?

In certain circumstances, a judge in a divorce case has the authority to order the sale of the marital home. This decision is typically made when it is deemed necessary for a fair division of assets or to meet the financial needs of both parties involved.

The judge will consider various factors, including the financial contributions of each spouse, the best interests of any dependent children, and the overall equitable distribution of property.

However, it is important to note that the judge's decision is based on the specific circumstances of the case, and not all divorces will result in a court-ordered sale of the house. It is advisable to consult with a solicitor specializing in family law to understand the potential outcomes in your particular situation and to advocate for your interests throughout the divorce proceedings.

Do i have mortgage payments after a divorce?

It is crucial to address the issue of mortgage payments and the associated financial responsibilities. Most mortgage contracts require notification of the divorce to the lender. If both spouses' names are on the mortgage deeds, the existing obligations typically remain unchanged. Failure to meet mortgage payments, especially if one spouse moves out and stops contributing, can lead to adverse consequences such as credit file damage or even repossession of the property.

If you plan to re-mortgage or switch lenders, both parties must consent and agree to the new terms. Lenders generally require verification of the remaining spouse's ability to afford the mortgage or may propose new terms for a revised mortgage agreement.

Divorce settlements often dictate that one spouse assumes the responsibility of paying the mortgage. It's important to note that this arrangement may affect your ability to obtain a mortgage in your name.

Mortgage companies take into consideration the fact that you would be accountable for two mortgages unless you have a high income. If one spouse wishes to remove their name from the mortgage, it may be possible to negotiate a settlement where the balance is reduced, making the remaining payments more manageable for the other spouse.

The feasibility of such arrangements depends on the specific financial circumstances of the individuals involved, allowing both parties to make a clean break and pursue their own housing options.

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Getting a new mortgage after a divorce?

Securing a new mortgage after a divorce has become more complex since the Mortgage Market Review in 2014. Typically, a minimum deposit of 25% is required for property purchases, although there are stricter criteria and terms for lower deposit mortgages. Despite these challenges, residential mortgage interest rates are currently favourable, and numerous attractive deals are available.

When applying for a new mortgage, be prepared for thorough scrutiny, including providing information on your deposit amount, post-tax income, credit rating, existing debts (secured and unsecured), spending habits, and personal circumstances.

It is important to expect a minimum 25% deposit, although certain lenders may accept lower amounts based on higher income with corresponding higher mortgage rates. Professional advice from an experienced solicitor can greatly assist in navigating the complexities of mortgage matters during and after a divorce.

How to sell your house after a divorce?

It is essential to consider the most effective approach for selling your house. We understand the importance of reaching a mutually agreeable resolution with your spouse. If the sale of the house is part of the divorce settlement, there are various channels to explore. In this section, we will highlight the options that favour cash buyers and expedite the process.

Engaging an estate agent for selling

If you have sufficient time for the sale, engaging an estate agent is the recommended route to secure the optimal price for your property.

However, it is important to note that traditional estate agency sales typically require a longer duration. To gain insights into the local housing market, we encourage you to utilize our local house market insights tool, which can provide an indication of property transaction timelines in your area.

The benefits of selling to a cash buyer after divorce:

Speed and certainty:

Cash buyers eliminate the need for mortgage approvals and lengthy transaction processes, resulting in a faster sale.

This can be particularly advantageous during the emotionally challenging period of divorce, allowing you to move on with your life promptly.

Mortgage approval deal
Simplified negotiations:

Cash offers often involve fewer contingencies and complications compared to traditional sales.

This streamlined approach simplifies the negotiation process and minimizes the potential for complications that could arise from mortgage-related issues.

team negotiation
No chain breakdown risks:

Traditional property sales can be susceptible to chain breakdowns if buyers further down the chain encounter financing issues.

Selling to a cash buyer eliminates this risk, providing peace of mind and ensuring a smoother transaction.

woman happy because her chain didn't break

Selling your house to a cash buyer can simplify the post-divorce property sale and enable a smoother transition to the next phase of your life. However, it is crucial to consult with legal and financial professionals to ensure a legally sound and advantageous transaction.

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