When a divorcing couple is litigating, one of the hardest assets to deal with can be the marital home. Often the topic of what to do with the house can be both an emotional and a financial strain.
Can I sell the house?
Usually, both spouses are on the title to the marital home. When that is the case, the easiest route to selling the house is for both spouses to cooperate. In the unusual event that only one of you is on the title to the marital home, one party can sell it without the other’s consent, but that is not a step to take lightly. Please talk to your lawyer about the repercussions of that decision.
When should we sell the house?
There are a lot of variables to consider when anticipating selling your home – the kids’ school year, whether there will be any proceeds to divide, will a new residence be less expensive to buy or rent than your current mortgage payment, will you be able to qualify for a new mortgage if your intention is to buy, do you have an agreement on all the other issues between you and your spouse?
The short answer is that it is probably best to list your house when the market conditions make it the most readily saleable when you know where you are going to live when the home is sold, and when you and your spouse are agreed on selling.
When should my spouse and I talk about selling the house?
Whether you and your spouse are going to sell the house or one of you will stay in it, the disposition of the house, although an emotionally-charged issue, can lead to a lot of other successes in your negotiations with one another. In our negotiations for our divorce clients, we like to address this issue early on as it is, pardon the pun, often the foundation of other agreements related to custody, child and spousal support, and distribution of other assets.
What if I don’t want to sell the house?
There are other options. If you have minor children, a court can award a party three (3) years of “use and possession” of the house, and you and your spouse can agree to a period of use and possession for as long as you like. This period is usually followed by the sale of the home. Alternatively, one of the spouses might be able to buy the other out depending on ability to qualify for a new loan. And finally, renting the home may be an option if both you and your spouse agree. Of course, if you and your spouse decide to the rent the home to a third party you will be making lots of decisions together during the rental period, so you may want to consider whether that is feasible.
What if my spouse won’t agree to sell the house, has moved out, and isn’t helping with the mortgage?
This is probably one of the most difficult situations. There are options with the court, but they all involve a level of difficulty for which you probably need a lawyer.
McCabe Russell, PA, has helped hundreds of clients reach agreements that put the issues that are important to them first. Contact us for your consultation today.