The main asset of most families is the equity in the family home. The rise in national house prices in the period 2001 to 2004 has seen an investment in property outstrip nearly all other forms of investment. The court will be anxious to consider the needs of any children of the family first. A home must be provided for them and usually the parent with care of any dependant children has the greater call for a larger share of the assets. Orders available to the court are:-
- A lump sum order – where one spouse has to make a payment of capital to the other
- A property transfer order – where one spouse is ordered to transfer an asset, often the family home from joint names to the sole name of the other, sometimes in return for a lump sum order
- A sale order – where it is appropriate the home is sold and the shares divided, for example, where the house is too expensive to fund by either spouse on one income alone and maintenance is inappropriate
- An order varying a trust – such orders can alter the terms of distribution of an estate or the way title to property is held. Such orders can provide for a transfer of a right of occupation to the parent with care of the children, but provide that on the 18 th birthday of the younger child, the home is to be sold and the non-custodial parent paid a share of the value of the house.