Background

My wife and I both want to buy the family home. We have two children aged 7 and 3. I had earlier said that my wife could keep the family home, but I have now changed my mind. The value of the home has risen hugely since separation.  

7 key answers

  1. A home purchased during the relationship is normally classified as relationship property and therefore divided on a 50/50 basis.
  2. If one party buys the home, the valuation is usually determined by one close to settlement and not given during separation. This takes account of the fact that the house normally retains the same shape and status from separation until separation.
  3. Verbal conversations are not binding, but rather seen as part of the negotiating process. In a similar way, discussions in writing including emails and text messages between the parties without legal advice are also seen as part of negotiation only. If one party remains in the home, however, from separation it is often hard for that to be reversed on settlement.
  4. If the children are in the primary care of one parent, that parent is usually given some priority to purchase the family home, if they can afford to.
  5. If neither party can afford to buy the home, the Family Court can order its sale on terms it sees fit.
  6. If parties cannot agree on a value, the Family Court may order sale of the home as being the most fair.
  7. There are some cases in which there are found to be extraordinary circumstances, for example economic disparity, such that the home is not divided 50/50. Such examples are unusual, but we do deal with them on the regular basis.

 Why this is an issue?

With rising house prices in New Zealand in 2015, we are seeing that in most cases both parties want to retain the family home. Therefore it becomes increasingly likely that such cases will end up in the Family Court and be decided by a Family Court as to who retains the family home, if anyone at all.   Given that the average length of time to resolve a case in the Family Court is one year, our divorce law clients are, in many cases, become frustrated. Please contact me for more specific advice. We deal with divorce and relationship property issues on a daily basis as this is our core business.  


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