Why You Should Not Be Thinking About Decoupling Your Properties
What is Decoupling? Decoupling is when there is a Husband & Wife relationship between the two co-owners of a property and essentially one co-owner transfers his/her share in the property to the other co-owner, hence a “Decouple”.
Most married couples make use of decoupling as a way to avoid paying Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD). A real estate transaction of this nature is not at arm’s length transaction. An arm’s length transaction is that buyers and sellers act independently and have no relationship to each other.
Decoupling of matrimonial assets for purposes of tax savings is penny wise pound foolish, especially where women is concerned.
Technically speaking, Decoupling of property assets between a married couple is a strategic way to buy a second residential property without incurring ABSD. When you split your matrimonial assets you are doing it for financial and practical reasons. Split the assets and we can now own 2 properties, and save some money.
It makes so much sense. It makes sense only when the relationship is strong and eternal. I love you and you love me. Everything seems perfect.
In reality, the one emotional issue that most couples choose not to confront and foresee… Divorce.
What happens if there is a Divorce?
Husband and Wife jointly owned one property. Wife transfers and sells her share to Husband at way below market price. Wife then purchases a new property, and does not have to pay ABSD as the new property would be her first property. Emotional and family issues may arise 5, 10, 20 years down the road especially if it leads to a divorce.
When the relationship breaks down, Wife can argue that both properties are matrimonial assets acquired during the course of marriage. Husband will argue that he had already paid his Wife fully, and the matrimonial property belongs to him only.
And the Judge in the Divorce court will ask the Wife, “So why did you sell your share to your Husband in the first place?!”
The woman will always be at the losing end.