Going Through a Divorce and Thinking of Selling Your House? Here’s What to do

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Going Through a Divorce and Selling Your House

When you get a divorce, several difficult things need to be handled. Splitting up property is one of the most challenging aspects of getting a divorce.

Divorce not only involves assets and debts, but it also entails decision-making about the shared property. That property includes your home. In most cases, the family home is the biggest asset during a divorce.

One of the most frequent points of contention among divorcing couples is who gets to stay in the house, even if it’s only temporary. Dividing the marital home is a big undertaking with many factors to think about. You want to do it right, so to help you make an informed decision, we explore a few options for dividing up property.

Deciding what to do with the family home after a divorce is difficult, but we’re here to help make it easier. Here are some options for you to consider.

Selling a House During a Divorce

In every divorce, a couple’s property and debts must be divided. But in most states, each spouse will keep their separate property, and they’ll only be responsible for their debts.

State law will primarily dictate how your property is divided in the case of divorce. Special circumstances surrounding your marriage and finances may also come into play.

A judge will need to review and approve your settlement agreement before granting a divorce. In most cases, property agreements are approved unless they’re considered unfair.

Who Gets the House During a Divorce

If both parties want the house, they first attempt to agree together. During this discussion, each person explains why the home is essential to them and tries to find other potential solutions that would work for the other party. For example, one option could be co-owning the house if both parties want it primarily for parenting time reasons.

If neither party is willing to compromise, they will go to mediation with the help of a neutral third party. The court will decide for you if the parties cannot agree to mediation.

The effect of a prenuptial agreement

Suppose a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in place that designates what will happen to the house in the event of a divorce. In that case, it can affect who gets ownership of the home. These agreements are not always ironclad, so be sure you have an attorney present when they are created and enforced.

What if I owned the house before the marriage?

The home may have become marital property during the marriage, even if you owned the house beforehand, so there is no guarantee that you will be able to keep it.

A young homeowners argues with a judge about dividing the large assets if her divorce

Dividing Large Assets

State rules on the division of marital property usually fall into two categories: equitable division and community property.

Equitable division

The “equitable division” rule is used in most states to divide marital property and assets during a divorce.

Although equitable and equal might appear to be the same, they differ. Instead of dividing assets equally, a judge must determine the unique situation of each divorce before deciding what would be a just way to divide property between the divorcing couple.

Community property

In the U.S., nine states say that unless a couple’s property is separate, both spouses are typically considered to have equal ownership and control of any property either one has, acquires, or accumulates during the marriage.

In community property states, typically, the judge will split the shared assets evenly between spouses upon divorce. However, there are some instances where the law permits judges to distribute these belongings unevenly, as long as it is considered a fair arrangement, For instance: 

  • California’s law (Cal. Fam. Code § 2550)provides that judges must divide a couple’s communal property equally. 
  • Nevada’s law (Nev. Rev. Stat. § 125.150)states that a judge must divide property equally unless there is a “compelling reason” for an unequal division of marital property. 
  • Texas’s law (Tex. Fam. Code § 7.0010) only requires the community property to be divided “just and right.”
  • Washington’s law (Wash. Rev. Code § 26.09.080) is a community property state. Still, dividing property is similar to equitable division. It relies on factors including the length of the marriage, the party’s financial situation, and whether a spouse with physical custody of children should keep the family house.

In most states, laws do not require a fifty-fifty property split in divorce; however, judges usually prefer a nearly equal division in most cases. From a practical standpoint, it is commonly seen as more fair when each spouse has close to an equal amount of marital assets after the marriage has ended.

Two divorced homeowners sit in front of each other while trying to come to an arrangement about their divorce

Buying Out the Other Party

Several reasons exist why someone might want to keep the family home after a divorce. In many cases where children are involved, one or both parents want their children to stay in the house part of the time because it is familiar to them.

Other times, someone likes or has an attachment to the house and does not want to give it up. If this occurs, the spouse who wants to hold onto the property must buy out ­­the other party’s interest in that property.

Before you buy out your spouse, you must take a few steps. The property’s value has to be determined as any loans or mortgages that come with it. You and your former partner must agree on what the house is worth, which can sometimes be challenging.

Suppose you need help to agree. In that case, a real estate agent can help by determining the property’s worth based on recent sales in your area. You may also need an appraiser for the most precise valuation of the property.

Several factors, including the following, may influence the final valuation that you and your spouse agree upon for the house:

  • Who will cover the cost of repairs?
  • Who will cover the cost of refinancing?
  • What handles broker’s fees?
  • Are there spousal support agreements in place?
  • Other property division issues.

If one spouse wants to buy out the other, they must refinance the home in their name. They will take out a loan for both the shared mortgage and the agreed-upon property price. It can take some time for this process to finalize.

Why You Might Sell a House During a Divorce

You might want to sell the house for any number of reasons. For instance, the mortgage may be too expensive, the court tells you to, or it’s a hassle to keep the home. 

Mortgage payments might become unmanageable without help

If you and your partner bought the house when you were both working, you might now be struggling to keep up with the expenses on a single income. If this is the case, selling the property may be your best option.

Close up of a gavel in a judges office

You are directed to sell by a judge

More often than not, both people contributed to the home’s purchase, regardless if it was an even split. If you can’t agree on who should get the house outside of court, then a judge will decide for you.

Court battles are rarely successful and can often lead to more hostility between the couple, making the divorce process even more complicated. Most people want to avoid a legal battle, so agreeing to sell the house and split the proceeds is often a more straightforward solution.

When the family home is sold, it will be easier for ex-spouses to divide their assets in a divorce. This is because they will not have to worry about the home’s future value. Though selling takes work, agreeing to sell and split the money amicably will save both parties pain and money relative to a legal battle.

It’s a hassle to keep the house

Before single homeownership, it’s crucial to comprehend the dangers and challenges that come with it.

One spouse may have the income to make all the mortgage payments and take over liability, but that would also mean getting rid of the other spouse’s name from the mortgage. They’ll need to talk to their lender and refinance the house, which is only under one person’s name. 

The spouse who wants ownership might have enough cash readily available. However, a lender could still deny this because they think this individual will need help to keep up with future increased payments based on a single income.

Lenders rarely back a single owner, and if the other spouse refuses to continue making payments on the house, you’ll have to sell or face foreclosure. Homeownership entails a lot of risks–financial and otherwise–that most people can’t handle alone. If you’re one of those people, beware: You could lose your home or damage your credit beyond repair.

While you both may come and go as you please, you must still pay the mortgage on time. Even if you’re not under the same roof, your financial duties don’t magically disappear.

How to Sell a House During a Divorce

Make an agreement with your spouse

Before deciding on selling the family home during a divorce, both parties must agree. When emotions are running high, open communication and setting clear expectations will help make the process go more smoothly.

For some divorcing couples, letting go of their home can be difficult because it might hold many memories. However, selling a house offers financial and emotional freedom for many other couples. Selling a home can provide you or your spouse with a clean slate and a new beginning after a tough time.

Decide when to sell

Should divorcing couples sell the family home before, during, or after their divorce? Each option has benefits and drawbacks.

If you and your spouse sell the home before your divorce is finalized, you are more likely to receive an equal share of the profits. Therefore, neither of you will have to give up something else you desire to keep ownership of the house.

You may elect to sell the property while going through the divorce process. If you choose to do this, it would be wise to work with a real estate agent whom both parties feel they can trust. 

Though selling the house may take some worry off your plate during the divorce, you’ll still need to prepare and stage the home for sale and make mortgage payments. 

Protect yourself in this situation by having an attorney draw up documentation specifying how mortgage bills, utilities, and other housing-related expenses will be paid until the divorce is finalized. 

Prep the home for sale

Once you and your former spouse decide to sell, get the property in tip-top shape. Make a list of upgrades or repairs, like painting and refinishing floors. Get estimated costs for each repair so you can factor them into the final selling price.

After you decide which repairs are needed, the next step is determining who will pay for said repairs. Sometimes, selling the house as-is is less complicated during a divorce. If home improvements are decided, it’s essential to split the financial responsibility between both parties. 

Lastly, somebody must be in charge of getting the house ready for buyers. This includes cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging furniture and decorations so that potential buyers can imagine themselves living there.

Enter the real estate market

It’s time to sell the property. Many people opt to use a real estate agent because it simplifies the process. You and your spouse must determine an agreed-upon selling price by researching comparable home prices. 

If you or your partner are still living in the house, you’ll need to work out how to handle showings. In addition to being a significant inconvenience, open houses and “for sale” signs will probably lead to questions from your nosy neighbors that you don’t want answered.

You’ll want to close the sale before the divorce is finalized to take advantage of tax benefits, so a quick sale is preferable. 

Suppose you opt to sell the home using traditional methods. In that case, it could sit on the market for 40 days up to 180 or more, depending on current market conditions before closing. Selling faster reduces your chances of losing money from missing out on marital tax breaks.

Split the proceeds

Finally, your house is sold! You might think the most challenging part is over, but the awkwardness of deciding how to split the profit settles in.

Understand that this only sometimes turns out as a 50/50 share. For example, suppose one partner contributed more financially to the mortgage or upkeep during the marriage. In that case, they may receive a more significant percentage of the sale.

On the contrary, if one partner has more additional assets, they may want a smaller percentage of the home sale profits. Speaking with your lawyer during the home selling process can assist you in making a fair decision.


If you are going through a divorce and thinking of selling your house, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. You will need to determine how you will split the proceeds from the sale with your ex-spouse, and you will need to be sure that you are getting the best possible price for your home.

Consider renting your home out instead of selling it, as this can provide you with additional income and allow you more time to find a new place to live. Consult with a divorce attorney to ensure you make the best decision for your particular situation.

If you are going through a divorce and need to sell your house fast, We Buy Houses For Cash can help. We will provide you with a hassle-free, fair price for your home so that you can move on with your life. Contact us today to learn more about our easy process.

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