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When a couple decides to divorce, they usually want to abandon all dealings with their former spouse.
Unfortunately, all too often cases are more complicated than that, with the two parties still tied up with child custody, child support, alimony, and of course, the shared residence.
There are many reasons why you would want to sell a joint house after a divorce, not least because the funds from the sale may provide both parties with enough money to start their new lives.
If you’re in a situation where your ex-spouse is refusing to leave your house, and you need to sell it soon, you need to familiarize yourself with the law in your state and consider consulting a divorce attorney.
The first step in a divorce scenario like this when you need to sell a house fast should be for you to find out which names are mentioned on the various documents relating to your mortgage.
This isn’t just the documents related to the original sale. It also includes the loan agreement, the mortgage or trust deed offering the house as collateral, and the grant deed, which identifies the owners.
With so many documents involved, sometimes inhabitants lose track or misunderstand who the property actually belongs to. If you find that your name is the only one on the deed, you have the right to solely transfer the title through a sale as long as the court hasn’t taken control of the house as a community asset.
The mortgage loan is not in itself a proof of ownership, so research all documents carefully before you proceed.
If your spouse’s name is also on the deed, you can’t transfer the title without their signature.
This means that some real estate agencies might allow you to put up the listing for sale with your name alone, but when it comes to accepting an offer, the signatures of you and your spouse would both be required.
If your spouse is refusing to leave the house from the start, the situation is unlikely to get easier, and you may have to employ a partition lawsuit. Bear in mind that this is usually a last resort for courts, as they prefer co-owners to resolve the conflict amongst themselves and come to an agreement.
With this preference in mind, you might wish to attempt to negotiate a resolution between yourselves. This is often difficult and stressful and might not lead to a satisfactory outcome.
Ideally, you may want to agree to sell the house fast before divorce if the timing allows it.
Before filing for a partition lawsuit, you may be able to ask your divorce attorney to write your ex-spouse ‘before action,’ saying that you will seek costs if they don’t agree to the sale. This may persuade your ex-spouse to sell.
Also bear in mind that where children are involved, some separate financial claims can be made, such as applications for specific capital or property.
If the situation allows it, you might also be able to negotiate your ex-spouse buying you out or taking overall payments.
However, it’s important to remember that while this may protect you from ongoing costs, your name is still visible on the mortgage agreement. As such, creditors may refuse to let you take out a new loan based on your existing financial commitments, and you may need the cash to put down a deposit for a new home.
Partition lawsuits are used to divide joint property between multiple owners, which commonly applies to real estate.
Any of the owners of the property can file a partition lawsuit to force its sale, as the division of the property without a sale isn’t usually possible. Because of this, a court-ordered sale is a common outcome.
If you both owned the house together, this would enable the sale, and you will have to split the proceeds. These will be used beforehand to settle any debts, such as the mortgage.
Both parties are likely to need experienced divorce attorneys to negotiate the lawsuit, and if you choose to file, you should prepare to accept the court’s final judgment. Unfortunately, there’s a chance this process is a drawn-out and stressful one, and could hinder selling a house fast.
Sometimes, after the court has ordered an obligatory sale to divide the asset, spouses may still prolong or complicate the process.
They could do so by refusing to agree on a Realtor, taking too long to sign documents, or setting the price of the listing too high to attract offers.
If this is the case, it is possible to ask the court to resolve the dispute. Your divorce attorney can file a request to complete each stage of the selling process by a designated time.
Evidence at such hearings may include appraisals to demonstrate a fair price being set for the home, a list of available realtors and particular proposals for deadlines, and why they are set reasonably.
If your spouse then fails to comply, your attorney may file for a motion of contempt.
This will inform the court that despite ordered to sell the house, your spouse is willfully failing to do so, and the court may inflict penalties onto your spouse or order them to take specific actions.
Alternatively, your divorce attorney can ask that your ex-spouse be required to vacate the premises, so the responsibilities for the sale may be passed onto you.
Regrettably, we can’t tell you that acquiring the right to sell your joint home will be an easy process.
If your ex-spouse is refusing to leave your house and you can’t solve the conflict amongst yourselves, you’ll likely have to get the courts involved.
So, prepare for this eventuality early and find the relevant documents detailing the ownership(s) of the property.
When you’ve finally made it to the point where you can transfer the deed, selling a home doesn’t have to be lengthy or stressful. For more information on how we can help, please feel free to contact us!