What’s a Mesher Order? Options for sorting out the family home
If you own your home, one of the biggest worries in a divorce is often what’s going to happen to it and where you are all going to live… especially if you have children. As parents, it’s natural to want to keep things as stable as possible for your children and allow them to carry on doing the things they always have and living in their home. Many parents don’t want to move their children out of the family home. But your home is also likely to be your largest asset, so you need to find a way of dividing it fairly. A Mesher order might be the answer.
A Mesher order forms part of your consent (financial) order and allows you to postpone the sale of the family home until your children have completed their secondary education (sometimes extended to cover their university education) .
Crucially, it sorts out what will happen to the proceeds of sale when the property is eventually sold and allows one parent to remain living in the property with the children (without the other parent having rights of entry).
The property remains in joint names throughout and usually you have a clause setting out who is responsible for running costs, and how structural repairs will be dealt with.
Mesher orders aren’t necessarily the best option, however. They are usually only used if other options such as selling the home and re-purchasing are not possible. For example, perhaps, there is not enough equity in your property to sell it and buy two separate homes (usually the case). Or not enough equity to fund deposits for new homes either, even if you are mortgageable.
The court prefers to have things sorted out at the time of the divorce if achievable, and Mesher orders have been criticised for storing up future problems, such as what happens if you still cannot house yourself and adult children in years to come. Use our handy table below to see if a Mesher is right for you and your circumstances or whether other options might be preferable.
Mesher Orders the pros and cons:
- Allows children to stay in family home (at least part of the time).
- Houses financially weaker spouse or one if both are not in a financially viable position.
- Can lead to a fairer (nearer 50/50) split of what is usually the largest asset, the family home as gives financially weaker person time to improve their prospects.
- Reduces costs at time of divorce (no selling/new purchase costs for one spouse).
- Leaves one spouse on a mortgage for a property they do not live in and thus reduces their borrowing capacity to house themselves (not an issue if re-purchase is not on the cards).
- Can become emotionally complicated if new partners are on the scene.
- Can store up problems for later, such as what if there is not enough money to re-purchase when the Mesher ends?
- Putting off the inevitable? Sometimes best to face reality, sell and move on.
If you need help looking at options for what to do with the family home, or guidance on whether a Mesher order will work in your circumstances, please click here for advice from one of our experts.
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i need advice. splitting from long term partner. joint owners of house. he wants to sell family home i want to stay here with children but cant yet afford to buy him out. children are 6 yrs and 10 yrs old. we are not married
Can you only get a mesher order once you've applied for divorce?
Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. There is no straightforward answer to this and I would recommend booking a call to understand the options available to you. You could look into 'offsetting' – when one spouse keeps their more valuable pension plan(s) in exchange for taking less of the other capital assets, for example, they take less of the equity in the family home or your combined savings. This of course would depend on whether or not your husband has a pension and the rest of your financial position.
Hi Ben, thanks for reaching out to amicable. Yes, you can only get a 'mesher order' as part of your 'consent order', which you can only get once you're at the middle stage of the divorce process - after you've received your 'conditional order' (formerly the decree nisi) from court. I hope that's helpful.