One of the hardest aspects of negotiating a divorce is the financial settlement especially when it involves property. Not only are there financial implications of dividing property if it’s the matrimonial home, for many there are practical and emotional implications. Everyone needs a roof over their head and whilst it may just be bricks and mortar, we do get emotionally attached to our family home.
Who gets the house in divorce is hugely disputed area and often the separating couple cannot reach an agreement even with mediation or solicitor lead negotiations. When no agreement can be reached the family Court may need to step in and issue a Property Adjustment Order.
What is a Property Adjustment Order?
A Property Adjustment Order is a legal document issued by a Court that outlines how a couple’s assets and property will be divided in a divorce. This order can be requested by either party or can be issued by the Court if the couple is unable to come to an agreement on their own. It is important to note that a Property Adjustment Order only applies to marital property, which is any property or assets acquired during the marriage.
How is a Property Adjustment Order Determined?
When determining a Property Adjustment Order, the Court will consider a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the financial contributions of each party and the needs of any children involved. The Court will also consider any prenuptial agreements that may have been signed before the marriage. It is important for both parties to provide accurate and detailed information about their assets and financial situation to ensure a fair decision. The financial disclosure is normally submitted by the Form E and either lying, or failing to disclose financial information can have severe consequences.
What are the possible outcomes of a Property Adjustment Order?
A Property Adjustment Order can have various outcomes depending on the specific circumstances of the divorce. Here are some possible outcomes:
- Sale of the property: The Court may order the sale of the property and the proceeds will be divided between the parties according to their respective shares.
- Transfer of ownership: The Court may order the transfer of ownership of the property to one party, while the other party receives compensation in the form of other assets or a lump sum payment.
- Mesher order: A Mesher Order is a type of Property Adjustment Order where the property is not sold immediately, but one party is allowed to remain in the property for a longer period, such as until the youngest child turns 18. The property will then be sold, and the proceeds divided.
- Martin order: A Martin order is similar to a Mesher order, but it allows one party to remain in the property for life or until they remarry or cohabit with another person. The property will be sold, and the proceeds divided upon the occurrence of certain events.
How do I get a Property Adjustment Order?
The Property Adjustment Order is likely to form part of the overall divorce financial settlement which will eventually be legally finalised with a Consent Order or a Clean Break Order (or both). Here are the general steps to obtain a Property Adjustment Order:
- Consult with a family law solicitor: It is advisable to seek legal advice from a family law solicitor who specialises in divorce financial settlements. Tyrer Roxburgh can help. We will guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options.
- Make an Application for Divorce: Start by completing a divorce application to initiate divorce proceedings if you haven’t already. A Financial Order for divorce, including the Property Adjustment Order can only be issued after the application for divorce has begun and most people wait until the Conditional Order has been issued.
- Financial disclosure: Both parties will need to provide accurate and detailed information about their assets and financial situation. This is usually done through a financial disclosure form, such as Form E.
- Negotiation and mediation: Attempt to reach an agreement with your spouse regarding the division of property. Mediation can be helpful in resolving disputes and reaching a mutually acceptable settlement and the Family Court, with a few exceptions, is unlikely to intervene until a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) has taken place.
- Court application: If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, you may need to apply to the Court for a Property Adjustment Order. Your family law solicitor will help you prepare the necessary documents and present your case to the Court.
- Court hearing: The Court will review the evidence and arguments presented by both parties. They will consider various factors, such as the length of the marriage, financial contributions, and the needs of any children involved, to make a fair decision.
- Court order: If the Court determines that a Property Adjustment Order is necessary, they will issue a legal document outlining how the assets and property will be divided.
Seek Legal Advice
A Property Adjustment Order can have a significant impact on a divorce settlement. It will determine how assets and property are divided, which can greatly affect the financial stability of both parties after the divorce. It is important for both parties to carefully consider their options and seek legal advice before agreeing to a Property Adjustment Order. The Team at Tyrer Roxburgh can help starting with a fixed fee, divorce consultation.