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French Property News Q&A - Transfer Of French Property Persuant To Divorce

Question

As part of our divorce settlement, my wife is transferring her half share of our French cottage into my name so that I will become the sole owner. What legal work will be required to effect the transfer in France and how much will this cost?

Answer

The procedure of transferring jointly owned assets in France into one owner's sole name is known as a “partage”. A notary in France will have to draft the deed of transfer and register it at the Land Registry, as he will have done when you and your wife first bought the property.

As proof of how your wife will be compensated for transferring her half share to you, the notary will need to see your UK Consent Order setting out which assets each partner is to receive after the divorce. If you are still in the process of divorcing and no Consent Order has yet been drawn up, you should make sure the Order specifically refers to your French property, that it includes a valuation of the property and that it makes clear what compensation your wife is to receive for the transfer. This may be, for example, a cash payment or a UK property received in exchange.

Note that if there is a mortgage over the property in your joint names, you will first need to obtain the bank's consent to transferring the mortgage into your sole name and releasing your wife from any liability.

If you have agreed that your wife is to receive a cash payment, the notary will check on what basis you own the property (e.g. 50/50, 60/40 ...) so as to ensure your wife receives the corresponding value of her share. Your wife will need to provide her personal bank account details so that the notary can send her the amount agreed.

Usually the notary will require you to make the payment into his bank account in Euros before he then transfers it on to your wife. However, if you have engaged a UK based firm of Solicitors and French law specialists to represent you they can often arrange for the funds to transit, in sterling, through their own client account. This will remove the extra cost of currency exchange and international transfer fees.

The notary's fees for a partage pursuant to a divorce are calculated as a percentage of the agreed value of the property. The cost of registration is also included by way of a "transfer tax" (the equivalent of stamp duty land tax) of 1.1% of the net value of the property, although this tax will rise to 2.5% as from 1st January 2012. The notary's fees are payable by you as the beneficiary of the transfer, unless your wife agrees to share this cost.

So, for example, if your property is worth around 70,000 Euros, you will pay notary's fees calculated as a percentage of this amount plus transfer tax of approximately 770 Euros, rising to 1,750 Euros if the transfer does not complete until on or after 1st January 2012.

This Q&A first appeared in Issue 247 of French Property news - October 2011.

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