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Breaking Up and Moving Out of the Family Home - What To Consider

on Monday, 07 September 2020.

Accepting that your relationship is over can be difficult for everyone involved. With lockdown restrictions easing, some people may consider that now would be an appropriate time to take the next steps and move out of the family home.

This can be emotionally very difficult, especially if there are children involved.

What Should I Consider Before Moving Out of the Family Home?

  • The property - The divorce process takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months on average, although it can be longer. You need to consider whether the property that you move into is appropriate for the amount of time you will be living there. For example, moving back in with your parents or a friend may be acceptable as a short term fix, but it may be unsuitable longer term.
  • Affordability - We advise dealing with your divorce and dividing your matrimonial assets at the same time. If you are unable to agree how the matrimonial assets are to be divided, including releasing any equity or cash that is held in joint names, this could add a considerable amount of time to your divorce. As such, you need to carefully consider whether you can comfortably afford to live in your chosen property until an agreement is reached.  
  • The children - How will childcare be split? Will the children move with you, or will they stay primarily in the family home? A relationship breakdown can be distressing for children, so parents need to carefully consider where the children will live and how to discuss a change in arrangements with the children. Any arrangement should be made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the children. If the children do not move with you, you need to consider whether the new property is suitable to enable the children to comfortably spend time with you there, away from the family home.
  • Selling the family home - If it is agreed that the family home should be sold, this will usually be managed by both parties. If you have moved out of the family home, it may be difficult for you to be involved in the sale process which could have a negative impact on timing and price. We do not recommend that the family home is sold before an agreement about the division of all assets has been reached and approved by the court.
  • Tax consequences - If a couple owns multiple properties, typically a capital gains tax liability will arise if those properties are transferred or sold. However, a capital gains tax liability can also arise if one party moves out of the family home into another property, thus surrendering the private residence relief that they would have claimed over the family home. At VWV, we have specialist tax lawyers on hand who can advise on whether a tax liability is likely to arise and also the extent of that liability. Getting this information early on in the process ensures that it can be factored into any settlement and you are not left with an unpleasant surprise later on down the line.
  • Resolution - If you wish to retain the family home after the breakdown of your marriage, it is always advised that you stay in the family home. However for a number of reasons this may not be appropriate. If you do move out of the family home and then wish to move back in, you may be faced with difficulties if your ex-partner is unwilling to move out or does not agree to you moving back in. At this point, you may need to consider making an application to the court.

How Can We Help?

VWV has a specialist team of family lawyers advising clients nationally and internationally on family related matters.

We appreciate that for some, the prospect of moving out of the family home can be even more complicated, particularly for those suffering from domestic abuse. However, advice is available to those suffering in this way. Our lawyers are also trained to advise you in these circumstances.


If you need any advice in relation to the breakdown of your relationship please contact Sam Hickman on 07464 544828, or complete the form below.

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