Property woes hit women on divorce

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Property woes hit women on divorce
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Valuing the home on divorce can be a "bone of contention", particularly for the woman in the relationship, specialists have warned.

Camilla Dell, founder and managing partner at buying agency Black Brick, said a lack of advice, distrust of valuations and having to be prepared for court battles are factors many divorcing women overlook, but all this can lead to additional stress and confusion.

Dell said: "We work with several divorce lawyers who often require our services for clients. When couples divorce the most valuable asset is often the family home. Who values the home can often be a bone of contention.

"If one side has an existing relationship with an estate agent there may be distrust from the other side that the valuation won’t be completely objective or unbiased.

"We have been asked by divorce lawyers to give our independent opinion on value in these situations."

Historically, according to Debora Price, professor of gerontology at the University of Manchester, the man has taken his pension and the woman has taken the house on divorce.

Putting aside the problem of women not being able to fund their retirement years, Price said it is very hard for a woman to rely on the property as an "asset" later on in life. 

We have been asked by divorce lawyers to give our independent opinion on value in these situations.Dell

She commented: "There is a possibility that a woman might be able to release equity in the home, but outside of London and the south-east this is not a great option and comes with risks.

"The best way to release equity without any risks is to sell and trade down, but if you are living in a terraced house outside of London, it is not easy to trade down."

There is also the importance of advising women to be prepared to explain why they need a certain value put on a home if the division of assets is contested and goes to court. 

Often a woman might be left with a lower settlement because she does not know how to assess what sort of home she and any children might need - if the children are to live with her - as well as the ongoing cost of running a home.

Dell added: "We’ve also been asked by divorce lawyers to help prepare their client (often women) for court. We had one situation for a high-profile divorce where we had to prepare the wife.

"Part of that preparation included going on property tours to view houses of varying values, so when the judge asked her why she was seeking a certain value for her next home she could confidently talk about what things cost.