Mesher Orders aren't something you hear too much about. Or at least they weren't, but the climate is changing and talk of them is now becoming more common, even if they are not an ideal option for anyone. Effectively in a divorce, a Mesher Order sets the date of the sale of the former marital home to when the youngest child turns 18 or finishes full time education or training. While it allows (usually) a mother and the children to continue with a settled life without being forced out, it makes it difficult for a couple to draw a line under their marriage. However, it is seen increasingly as a viable option in the current climate because the recession is making Clean Break Orders less achievable. Clean Break Orders have been the preferred method of signing off on a financial settlement for some years. As the name suggests, it is a full stop at the end of the relationship, heads off any future claims and leaves both parties knowing exactly where they stand. However, the difficult economic climate is making it difficult to do this. The most common sticking point is property where no single party can afford to take it on on their own and the couple cannot realise enough capital from a sale to cover the mortgage and associated selling costs, while starting afresh somewhere else at the same time. This has led to a rise in house sharing agreements for estranged couples and in Mesher Orders, which give some stability to a situation while there are children involved who would be adversely affected by a sub-optimal house sale and a resulting lack of funds to support them. An experienced family lawyer should be consulted if an individual finds themselves in this type of situation where they effectively cannot afford to move away from their ex. There are a number of options and a Mesher is often not ideal. For instance, assuming it is the ex-wife who stays living in the property until the youngest turns 18, they then have to sell the property or buy out their partner. Getting a mortgage for the first time at 50 (for argument's sake) is not an easy task. On the other side of the coin, the ex-husband may have bought another property and find that his share from the sale of the former matrimonial home is significantly hit by liability for capital gains tax. These are not normal times and so innovative solutions to these problems are increasingly being sought. That is why the Mesher Order has become more common. Until the country pulls out of the recession and stabilises somewhat, it is increasingly likely that traditional steps in a divorce will be more difficult to take. Andrew Woolley Family solicitor
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