family home

Selling the family home during court proceedings

Mr Justice Cobb recently reviewed the law surrounding the thorny issue of the sale of the the family home during the course of ongoing financial remedy proceedings. Many separating couples find themselves in a quandary, as they consider the pro’s and con’s of such a sale within the context of such proceedings, as occurred in the case of WS v HS [2018] EWFC11.

The common scenario affecting couples in these types of cases, is an overwhelming need for funds to finance lifestyle expenses or legal fees, in the face of ongoing proceedings. In this particular case, the husband’s company had gone into liquidation, resulting in earnings of around £250,000 p/a dropping to state benefits, whilst also having to continue to pay for the parties’ two children in private education. The family home itself had been on the market for some time before proceedings had been issued, without any particular interest, resulting in a drop from £950,000 to £785,000, before an offer was made. The husband sought to accept the offer, whilst the wife refused to do so. The husband issued financial remedy proceedings, together with an application to order the sale of the family home.

Mr Justice Cobb reflected on the three primary statutes affording the court the ability to order an interim sale of the family home, together with the prevailing case law. There was some criticism at the approach taken by the lower courts, which highlighted the importance of adopting the correct procedural approach as an applicant.

One of the leading cases in this area, Wicks v Wicks [1998], was noted by the Court of Appeal – even 20 years ago – that this area of family law was considered “ripe for reform”. Echoing these sentiments, Mr Justice Cobb suggests “…that the issue of interim capital relief is one which is now long overdue for reform.   It may be that opportunity can be taken to examine again this issue within the proposals currently under discussion to achieve the administrative de-linking of divorce and dissolution cases from any related proceedings for a financial remedy, as proposed by the Family Procedure Rules Committee (July 2017).

Serving Bedford and the surrounding villages, together with our office in central London, the solicitors at Hunter and Uro Solicitors can help you with any family law matter, including those concerning your family home and other financial assets. If you would like to speak to one of our solicitors to discuss your case, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777.


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