Mesher Orders Explained

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 25th January 2024

When a marriage ends, there’s usually a lot of loose ends to tie up relating to money and property. One of the biggest questions during this process is what happens to the family home.

mesher-order

Usually, divorcing couples decide to sell it and share the money, or one person buys the other out. However, sometimes things aren’t so straightforward and the courts decide how to split things fairly.

In some cases, this involves a Mesher Order. 

What is a Mesher Order? 

A Mesher Order is a legal directive, sometimes issued by the court, that allows the sale of a family home to be delayed until something specific happens, for example, children leaving school. 

When that trigger event occurs, the house gets sold, and the money is shared between the couple. 

Common trigger events for a Mesher Order

A Mesher Order can be triggered either on a specific date or when something happens, such as the youngest child of a couple turning 18 or leaving full-time education. 

In some circumstances, the trigger event could be related to the person living in the property. For example, if they remarry. Essentially, there's no set list of what a trigger event can, or cannot be. Rather, the divorcing couple should agree on this as a part of their agreement.

What are the benefits of a Mesher Order? 

The benefits of a Mesher Order include: 

  • Giving divorcing couples time to sort out practical and financial matters without the pressure of an immediate sale; 

  • Minimising disruption to children by allowing them to stay in the family home up to a certain point; 

  • Avoiding situations where couples are forced to sell the property quickly, potentially at a less-than-ideal time or price;

  • Ensuring that both parties get their fair share of the property value when it eventually sells. 

What are the disadvantages of a Mesher Order? 

The key disadvantage of a Mesher Order is that it can keep separating couples financially connected for longer, which isn’t always ideal.

For some, this could leave their money in limbo for a significant period, which can make it harder for the non-resident partner to get a mortgage for a new place. Or, if they do buy a new home, they might end up having to pay Capital Gains Tax on their share of the sale when the property is eventually sold. 

There’s also the argument that a Mesher Order is only a temporary fix to a permanent problem. While it provides stability for a set amount of time, the marital home will have to be sold at some point, which can bring a whole new set of challenges depending on the circumstances. 

Ultimately, whether a Mesher Order is the right option during a divorce depends on the trade-off between the short-term stability it provides and potential long-term financial complexities. 

How to apply for a Mesher Order

If you and your partner decide to go ahead with a Mesher Order, a solicitor can write it up as part of your financial settlement agreement. This agreement should then be included in the Consent Order, which will be sent to the judge for final approval. 

What if my ex won’t agree to a Mesher Order? 

As we all know, sometimes divorces aren’t amicable, and it may come about that separating partners can’t agree on a Mesher Order. If this is the case, then you will have to apply to the court for a Financial Order, including a Mesher Order as part of this request. The judge will then look at this, along with all the financial information included, and make a legally binding decision about what should happen. 

It’s important to note, however, that a judge’s ruling on asset division, maintenance payments at an FDR, and Mesher Orders is final. This means that both parties must comply whether they agree with the settlement or not. 

Are there alternatives to a Mesher Order? 

A Mesher Order is just one possibility when it comes to making agreements on the family home during a breakup. Other options include: 

  • Selling the home and dividing the proceeds; 

  • One partner buys out the other’s share; 

  • Transferring partial ownership to one person, so the leaving spouse gets some equity out of the property upfront but still owns a smaller share. 

Selling a house comes with its complications sometimes, as do other courses of action such as transfer of equity.

If you’re confused about your options and whether a Mesher Order is right for you, it’s a good idea to find a solicitor who can guide you through what choices you have so you can make an informed decision in your best interests, and the best interests of your children. 

Example of a Mesher Order in practice 

Sarah and James are going through a divorce and have a teenage daughter, Lily. They own their home, which is worth £400,000 with £250,000 in equity. Sarah earns £20,000 per year and would struggle to secure a mortgage on her own if they sold the house. 

To ensure stability for Lily, they agree to a Mesher Order where Sarah will continue to live in the house until Lily finishes her A-levels in three years (the trigger event).

At that point, the agreement says they will sell the house, and the equity will be split, with 60% going to Sarah and 40% to James.  During this time, Sarah agrees to cover the mortgage and household expenses, while James pays child maintenance to help with Lily’s needs. 

Get help with divorce financial settlements from Lawhive

At Lawhive, our divorce lawyers can help you reach and finalise a fair financial settlement, including Mesher Orders, with your ex for fixed fees. 

To find out more, contact our legal assessment team today.

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