When a couple divorce, what happens to the family home is a frequent sticking point. It is often the most valuable asset the family owns, and commonly it is either sold or one of the divorcing couple remains in it with the appropriate financial arrangements being made.

In a recent divorce case reviewed by Stuart Barton, the financial consent order provided that the family home should be immediately sold. Unexpectedly, the home did not sell quickly, and the wife continued to live in it with the couple’s two adult daughters.

When this state of affairs had continued for about six months, the husband served a notice on his wife that she should vacate the house or pay a market rent. The property was in Knightsbridge and the rent was said to be £5,000 per week.

She continued to live in the property and refused to pay the rent – only moving out when the property was eventually sold several years later for some £5.9 million, a sum considerably less than that originally sought.

The husband went to court to have the ‘rent not paid’ taken into account in their financial settlement. He was initially successful, but his wife appealed against that decision. In the High Court, the Judge commented that it was clear the wife had the right to remain in occupation for some time after the consent order was made, but the issue was for how long.

He concluded that the order allowed her to remain in occupation until the sale and was couched in terms that meant she had no liability to pay a market rent during the period of occupation.

If you are divorcing, there may be many issues on which sound legal advice is essential. We can ensure you are expertly advised and represented. Call Stuart on 01254 778148, or alternatively complete our Contact Us form and one of our expert advisors will be in touch.

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