While we have gone through a lockdown, this did not mean that family proceedings and discussions regarding the settlement of assets also went into lockdown. These still continued.
No doubt many people going through a divorce have been wondering how to value the matrimonial pot to ensure that it is divided equally and in accordance with the s25 factors. Unfortunately, many fear this uncertainty.
Whilst the Government has announced the reopening of the market – how has this affected house prices?
Negotiating a financial settlement can already be a difficult time, both emotionally and financially, and the former matrimonial home (the “FMH”) is usually a significant piece of the puzzle and can hold a lot of sentimental value also.
Ex-spouses have the option to agree on the valuation of the FMH and other properties to allow settlement negotiations to begin however it is clear that many people may be concerned about how to value those properties and, if they are to be sold, whether there is a high demand on the property market.
If ex-spouses cannot agree on the values of properties, mainly due to the pandemic, it may be necessary to involve estate agents or chartered surveyors to obtain the true and correct value of those properties. At least then you will know you have the correct valuations available when discussing how to split the matrimonial pot.
There are also mechanisms that can be used in draft orders which can cover for the lack of certainty of property prices, for example, agreeing on a percentage share rather than actual lump sums.
Let’s not forget the financial crisis in 2008 and how even though there was uncertainty around the housing market, ex-spouses were still able to agree estimated valuations of properties and engage in discussions which reached a resolution.
In the event that you and your ex-spouse are concerned that the housing market is not yet at its best, there are of course options available to defer the sale of the properties to a time when you’re confident in the housing market. Clearly, thought needs to be given in relation to the amount of time you will allow to go by until the property (or properties) must be sold and how they will be funded in the meantime.
To conclude, it is important that, if you agreed on a valuation of a property or agreed on a valuation of a property prior to the COVID—19 pandemic, then this may need to be revised.
The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal advice on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor before you embark on any course of action.
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