To enable anyone to answer the question “Can I keep the house or will I be forced to sell after divorce?” for you, you will need to be able to give them a broad idea about what your total “asset pot” is. Otherwise, it is similar to asking a midwife whether your newborn will go to Oxbridge or whether Milton Keynes will become European Capital of Culture in 2023*: impossible to call at the time of asking.
Which house is it you are referring to? Do you have two homes that you share your time between? Did you inherit a small property during your marriage which you rent out? Do you have a portfolio of properties that you and your spouse manage together? How much equity is held in those properties? I ask these questions to highlight that just as every marriage is different, every pot of assets held within a marriage is unique.
This is one of those situations where “knowledge is the antidote to fear”**. To enable any family law solicitor to give you an idea of the bracket of settlement in your case, you will need to give them an idea of the broad asset base. Have a look at sold prices on the web for properties on your road. Speak to a specialist alpine property agency to give you a guide sale price for your alpine chalet, or a local or national land agent for the price per acre of your land. It may well be the case that if you proceed to resolving any financial dispute through collaborative or court routes that “joint” valuations of the properties will need to be done by neutral surveyors or estate agents instructed by both solicitors. However, if you have an idea of the total asset pot from the outset, your solicitor will be able to give you a clearer idea, using their expertise, about the likely bracket of settlement, or you can bring that knowledge to the table if you are using alternative dispute resolution options.
Two additional points which are worthy of an initial investigation are the levels of any potential tax liabilities on transfer or sale of properties, and mortgage capacities, to enable you to put together your “ideal outcome” before you meet with your family law solicitor.
**Ralph Waldo Emerson
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