Last month, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced plans to correct an anomaly from his previous Budget by cutting Stamp Duty for first-time buyers of shared ownership properties worth up to £500,000. It was also announced by the Chancellor that the relief will be applied retrospectively from his previous Budget (November 2017) to shared ownership properties bought in England and Northern Ireland.

Shared ownership schemes are a cross between buying and renting; aimed mainly at first-time buyers. Shared ownership schemes are aimed at people who don’t earn enough to buy a home outright, allowing a buyer to purchase between a quarter and three-quarters of a property.

In the 2017 budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond raised the 0% Stamp Duty threshold to £300,000 from £125,000 in order to help first-time buyers. To qualify for the Stamp Duty exemption given in the 2017 budget to first-time buyers of homes priced up to £300,000, buyers of a shared ownership property had to elect to be taxed on the full market value of the home (up to £500,000) rather than just on the share they were buying. If the full market value of the shared-ownership property was more than £500,000, the buyer would not have been eligible for any Stamp Duty relief at all. Alternatively, buyers could elect to use their first-time buyer exemption on the first share of the property they bought but would have had to pay full rate Stamp Duty on all further shares bought, regardless if the sum of all payments was less than £300,000.

The update to the 2018 budget for first-time buyers purchasing shared ownership homes is a welcomed move and is even better news that this change has been backdated to November 2017.

For further information and advice, please contact us to speak to a member of our property team.

Unfortunately, sometimes when a marriage breaks down things can get complicated. Divorce itself can be a painful process as not only are emotions high, but the legal proceedings can sometimes seem endless. The decision to separate is never easy and is life changing, but with the correct advice and support throughout, the process can be less daunting.

Once the decision has been made to divorce proceedings can be commenced at any time provided that you have been married for over one year and that one partner is domiciled or habitually resident in England and Wales.

Divorce Grounds

The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and to establish this one of the following five facts must be relied upon:

  1. Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living together; or
  2. Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together; or
  3. Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of two years or more; or
  4. You and your spouse have been living separately for two years or more and your spouse agrees to the divorce; or
  5. You and your spouse have been living separately for five years or more.

Divorce Process

The spouse issuing the divorce proceedings is called the Petitioner whilst the spouse to receive the Divorce Petition is called the Respondent. The Petitioner must submit a Divorce Petition to the Court with the original marriage certificate and a court fee which is currently £550.00. If there are children of the marriage, then the Petitioner must also submit a Statement of Arrangements about the children to the Court with the Petition.

The Court will then issue a Notice of Proceedings to the Respondent and request that they complete and Return an Acknowledgment of Service within 7 days confirming whether they wish to defend the Petition. If a Respondent does intend to defend the Petition, they must file a defence called an Answer within 28 days of receipt of the Petition.

If the Respondent does not intend to defend the Petition, the Petitioner then files a statement in support of the Petition and applies to the Court for the Decree Nisi. A Judge will consider the papers submitted and if satisfied that the ground for divorce is made, they will certify that the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce and will fix a date on which the Decree Nisi will be pronounced. Neither party needs to attend Court for this pronouncement.

Once the Decree Nisi has been granted, the Petitioner may apply for the Decree Absolute after six weeks and one day has passed. If the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute, then the Respondent may do so three months later. The Decree Nisi is then made Absolute and the marriage is dissolved.

If you find yourself in need of advice our Family Department has the resources to help you no matter what the issue arising as a consequence of the breakdown of your relationship.