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What are Mesher and Martin Orders?

Mesher and Martin orders allow spouses to continue owning a property jointly post-separation until a certain trigger event happens. They are often referred to as “deferred orders for sale”. You may want a Mesher order if, for example, you want to stay in the family home with the children but you do not have the financial means to take over the mortgage.

Mesher and Martin orders are both types of settlement of property orders that can be used to adjust finances on divorce when the matrimonial assets are being split. A settlement of property order creates a trust over the property for the benefit of one or both parties (or for the benefit of a child of the family).

Both Mesher and Martin orders create a trust of land in which the parties hold the property as tenants in common in defined shares. This means that the property is owned jointly, but  each party owns a separate share in the property. If one party dies, their share passes to their beneficiaries in accordance with their will or intestacy.

Mesher orders trigger an order for sale once a certain event happens. The proceeds of sale will then be split in accordance with the parties’ defined shares. Possible examples of triggering events under a Mesher order could be:

  • Youngest child of the family reaching 18.
  • Remarriage (or cohabitation) of the resident party.
  • Death of the resident party.
  • Further order.

When a Mesher order is in place, the joint legal ownership of the property is retained by both parties, even if only one of the parties remains living in the property. As the property remains jointly owned, the terms of the trust will often specify the contributions of each party to the mortgage payments, maintenance and upkeep of the property and insurance.

Mesher orders are complex and are often only appropriate  in certain circumstances. This is because  parties remain joined together in property ownership after their relationship or marriage has broken down.

A Martin order gives one party the right to occupy the former matrimonial home for life or until re-marriage.

Martin orders tend to be used if a couple have no dependent children and the non-resident party has no immediate requirement for capital to pay for somewhere new to live. For example, a Martin order could be used if the non-resident party is living in a second property which is worth much less than the matrimonial home. Likewise, a Martin order may be appropriate if the outright transfer of the former matrimonial home to the resident party would produce an unfair capital split.