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How properties are divided in divorce

Parties to divorce proceedings may hold property either solely, jointly with the other (either as joint tenants or tenants in common), or jointly with a third party. If a property is held with a third party, it is sometimes necessary to join that party to the financial proceedings.

Broadly, to be considered for division within financial proceedings, a property – or interest in a property - must usually be matrimonial in nature. Matrimonial assets are those built up by the parties during the marriage period (generally from the date of cohabitation – insofar as that cohabitation led seamlessly to marriage – until the date of separation). They are distinct from non-matrimonial and/or pre-marital assets, which are assets either brought into the marriage by a spouse, having been owned prior to the relationship, or acquired unilaterally (such as by way of gift, or inheritance).

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The exception to this is the family home, which is considered separately and, in principle, shared equally between the parties regardless of legal ownership. If you are not a legal owner of your family home, you can apply to register your matrimonial home rights, which protect your right as the spouse of the legal owner to occupy the property pending conclusion of any financial proceedings.

Occupation of the family home following separation can also be regulated, in some cases, by an occupation order.

During the course of a marriage, a pre-marital property may become matrimonialised and subsequently open to consideration for division within the proceedings. This is often the case where a property was occupied as the family home for a period of time. It is also possible to acquire a beneficial interest in a property in some specific circumstances, even if you are not married, such as contributions to the purchase price (including mortgage repayments) and/or renovations undertaken to the property.

Division of properties held by the parties to a marriage will depend on various factors, including whether the properties are matrimonial, the contributions of each party in relation to the properties in question, and whether each partys share of the matrimonial assets is sufficient to meet their needs. At the conclusion of financial proceedings, the court has the power to order a sale of a property, and/or the transfer of a property.

Vardags works exclusively with high and ultra-high net worth clients at all stages of the divorce process. We can examine and challenge valuation reports, provide a critial review of the supporting evidence provided by experts during court proceedings, and tailor our approach to ensure a favourable outcome on a case-by-case basis.

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.


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Founder & President Ayesha Vardag Founder & President Divorce & Family
“Ayesha Vardag - Britain's top divorce lawyer.” 
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Chief Executive Officer Stephen Bence Vardags CEO
“Dr Stephen Bence is a financial genius.” 
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Senior Partner - Divorce & Family David Lister
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