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Heslop & Platt are specialists in the field of french planning law.
Based in the North of England, we have helped clients for over eight years with French legal advice and services.
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The team of lawyers at Heslop & Platt regularly produces articles for a variety of websites and specialist publications.
Here is a selection of the articles we have written.

Please ensure you contact us for specific advice as the information contained in our articles is of necessity general and must not be relied upon without additional guidance from a French Law Specialist firm such as ours.

Divorce Dilemma

Question

When a French second home is involved in a divorce settlement, what is the legal standing and the best course of action to minimise costs? And do you have any general tips?

Answer

As a firm of UK solicitors’ specialising in French law, we regularly receive instructions from other lawyers as well as from individual clients regarding the transfer of a second home in France from the joint names of a married couple into the sole name of one spouse.

Usually, we are contacted once divorce proceedings are already under way in the UK.

Sometimes we are contacted very late on when the Decree Absolute has already been issued and we are then asked to deal with the transfer of the French house so as to comply with the provisions of the "Consent Order" which forms part of the financial settlement of the divorce.

Generally, it is best if we are involved as early as possible once a couple who own a French property embark on a divorce.

In our experience, neither the couple nor their respective matrimonial solicitors have any real idea as to the procedural steps which are required in France and the fees and taxes which will be payable in order to effect the transfer of ownership.

For example, a transfer tax of 1.1% of the value of the half share of the property being transferred will be payable. On top of this, notaries fees will be payable and these will be assessed on the full value of the property. If you instruct a UK based French law specialist to assist with the transfer, you should expect to pay up to £1,000 for their services. This will include preparation of Powers of Attorney so that neither party has to travel to France to sign the documentation.

The transfer of ownership still has to be dealt with by a notary in France and cannot be done by a UK solicitor. The French notary will require certified and legalised translations of the UK court papers (namely the Consent Order and the Decree Nisi or Decree Absolute).

In summary, the sooner the individuals who are divorcing (or their matrimonial solicitors) address the issue of the French house and contact a UK based specialist or their notary in France, the better informed they will be as to the procedure, timescale and costs involved.

Divorce is a stressful and expensive experience at the best of times and without professional assistance regarding the French property, it will invariably prove to be even more stressful and even more expensive.

This article first appeared in Issue 77 of French Magazine – NOV/DEC 2009

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