We are separating, do we need an agreement to sell our house?

When couples decide to separate, there can be lots of things that need to be resolved.  For many couples, the most pressing issue may be the property in which they reside.

We are often asked  by clients if they are separated and own a house whether a written agreement is required to allow the sale of that property to proceed.  It will not be necessary in every circumstance but we would always advise that having a written agreement in place is better because it clearly sets out each parties obligations in relation to the sale and what is to happen in relation to the equity in the property once the property is sold.  It takes away any ambiguity and ensures that each party understands what is expected of them in terms of conduct and also in terms of co-operation.

Another concern that parties may have is whether their spouse can sell the property without their consent.  If you are a joint title holder to the property then the other party must have your consent to sell that property.  If you are not in agreement then one or the other of you could raise court proceedings to force the sale of the property.  We would always advise that an action for division and sale of a property should be the last resort and parties should attempt to resolve matters out with the court process. However if one party is being unreasonable, and there is no reason the property should not be sold, then that is an option that can be looked at in respect of resolving matters arising from the separation.

If only one party owns the property then the situation is slightly different and the property could be sold without the consent of the other spouse however, that spouse is likely to have occupancy rights and the sale could not proceed without those being renounced.  Further, if the property was purchased during the period of the marriage or was purchased with the intention of that being a family home, then that must also be taken into consideration in respect of any financial settlement. It is not as straight forward as the party who has title to the property simply selling it.

We are often asked in regards to property if there are still other matters outstanding.  Parties can enter into what is called an interim agreement to facilitate the sale of the property and thereafter a full and final agreement can be entered into to resolve all other financial matters arising from parties separation.

We would always suggest that parties take early legal advice in respect of these matters, as the sooner this advice is taken, the clearer  parties will be in terms of their position, rights and the best way forward to progress matters.

We offer initial diagnostic advice by telephone to determine whether or not we are able to assist and whether you wish to progress matters to allow us to identify issues and provide solutions.  Contact us at info@caritaslegal.co.uk to arrange your appointment.

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