Sums of money can simply be divided up – as we all know, however, things are much less straightforward when it comes to property. The division of the shared property can therefore be a very drawn-out process both during and after a divorce. What sort of time-frames are we talking about here? We have consulted lawyer and property expert Sven Johns of MOSLER+PARTNER RECHTSANWÄLTE.
Mr Johns, how long does it take on average to conclude the division of the matrimonial property between divorcing spouses?
“This varies hugely. In terms of dividing up assets, the ideal-case scenario is when the property is vacated and sold, i.e. neither of the spouses remain resident there. If the marketing of the property is undertaken on an amicable basis, the sale can be concluded within five to six months. After another two to three months, the conditions for the transfer of title would have been met, so that the sale price can then be actually achieved. So I would say a period of between half and three-quarters of a year – if everything runs smoothly, that’s how long it takes to complete the division of assets.”
That sounds like a record-breakingly short amount of time!
“And it’s a huge relief for everyone involved. Especially when the process is conducted with the appropriate partners, i.e. an estate agent who takes care of everything; an expert who has drawn up a valuation so that the parties don’t have to constantly deal with this issue themselves but instead leave it all in suitable hands.”
And what if things don’t go smoothly?
“In the absence of an amicable agreement, you can be looking at a time-frame of up to three or more years for the actual division process, which has massive financial implications!”
How is it possible for it to take this long?
“The biggest difficulty is the issue of whether or not the two spouses are still able to communicate reasonably on any level. Are they able to agree on a shared valuation of the property, and use this as the basis for developing a plan for the division of assets? If not, they can try and resolve this all through lawyers. But let’s not kid ourselves: this is an expensive and drawn-out proposition. The dogged refusal to collaborate on the division of assets has very rarely proved to be a wise course of action. Everyone should think long and hard about this: do I really stand to gain more by refusing to accept the appraiser or estate agent chosen by my spouse? Or do I end up with less, because at some point I will just end up saying: “Enough is enough, the main thing is to draw a line under this whole business.”
Is there any way of forcing such a line to be drawn, or to at least bring it about sooner? Time is an extremely crucial factor for both parties, after all.
“Whenever divorcing spouses cannot reach an amicable solution when dividing up their assets, the ultima ratio is for one of them to request a compulsory partition of the property by public auction. The division is then enacted through the property being auctioned off.”
Of course, both parties achieve a better outcome if they can agree on an amicable process – preferably doing so ahead of the divorce proceedings.
“You said it!”
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Legal note: This article does not constitute tax or legal advice in individual cases. Please have the facts of your specific individual case clarified by a lawyer and/or tax advisor.
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