Family lawyers have warned that the Euro crisis has had tumbling effect on property values across the EU leading to holiday homes becoming into a toxic legacy for couples who are in the midst of divorce.
Number of cases that are currently on the pipeline centre around the question of which partner would be taking on the villa in Spain, Greece or Italy rather than who would not.
One family lawyer described the task of dividing the assets between warring couples who own a holiday home as like a game of pass the bomb.
Case notes in one separation being negotiated currently include discussions about how to deal with a ‘dead duck’ villa in Spain which has lost its value but still has a hefty mortgage to service and little prospect of being sold.
Another case has a couple who are wrangling over what to do with a house in Cyprus which was now worth £53,000 less than its original value, and after calculating currency exchange issues and steep local taxes to transfer ownership.
In other cases, the added complexity of disposing of a property abroad has become a weapon used by one side or the other in already acrimonious splits.
One British divorcee is being forced to go through a lengthy legal challenge in France to recover proceeds from the sale of their former home, awarded to her by an English court but being withheld by her ex-husband.
A partner of family law solicitors firm said that fighting over overseas houses had become one of the biggest headaches in divorce proceedings in the last year.
The firm estimates that at least one in six of its cases involve the division of domestic and foreign property.
When everything is going well in a family it feels really great to own a property abroad but as soon as the relationship becomes rocky the same assets become a disaster the lawyer said.
The lawyer said that she always encouraged her clients to get rid of property abroad or let the other side have it because they are more trouble than they are worth. They become millstone around the neck of a divorcing partner’s neck.
She added that the majority of people who’ve got these second homes in places like France and Spain, were not the super-rich they but just normal middle class families who could managed to purchase a holiday home.
Another partner of the firm added that some divorcees who received Continental homes before the financial crisis have attempted to “unpick” the terms of their settlements in light of the crisis but were rebuffed by the courts.