Selling a House During Divorce: A Comprehensive Guide

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Selling a House During Divorce

Divorce is never an easy process, but it comes with a series of decisions that can be hard to make. One such decision lies in asset division; this includes the home if you are married and own one jointly. Some individuals will accept other assets like cars instead of their part of the house, while others may choose to receive funds for what they have contributed to making mortgage payments or renovations.

What constitutes a fair share when it comes to selling the house?

Deciding once you have sold the property is more straightforward, especially if both parties want their stake. However, splitting up the home into two equal parts isn’t exactly an option – but selling and dividing profits should be done fairly for all sides involved.

As explained below, several factors lead to potentially selling a house during a divorce

Your Guide to Selling a House During a Divorce

To maximize the available time and draw in as many interested buyers as possible, it’s essential when selling a house during a divorce to put your house on the market quickly upon coming to terms with divorce being inevitable. The sooner you get started, the better your chance of selling your home efficiently.

Tax filing is an often overlooked asset of selling the house before divorce. It’s common for both parties in a divorce to move out of their joint house, essentially turning it into a second residence for each party.

By offloading this property before the divorce process, you can benefit from simplifying your taxes and potentially reducing any unnecessary financial burden on either spouse.

Because of the home exclusion, you’ll usually pay less capital gains tax in a home sale.

Two senior homeowners sit across each other after arguing over the sale of their house. Arguments are common when selling a house in a divorce

Who Gets The House in a Divorce?

When couples contemplate separation, a primary concern is who gets the house in a divorce. Sometimes it’s possible to co-own, but in most cases, it’s not.

The resolution of marital property during a divorce depends on various factors, including whether the house is considered marital or separate property, the state’s laws and regulations, and any other circumstances about both parties.

When a couple decides to separate, it is recommended that they come together and reach an agreement on issues such as the equitable distribution of property—especially the house.

When couples can agree on property division, custodianship, and other matters, they can proceed with a basic uncontested divorce by creating their settlement. You and your spouse can discover a more cost-effective, less demanding, and mutually beneficial outcome by negotiating. A family law judge cannot possibly understand the details of your situation better than you two do.

The court will take the case when a couple cannot agree on what should happen with their home. The judge presiding over your case will review state laws and numerous relevant factors that can help determine who gets to keep the house in question and then issue a court order.

Dividing Large Assets

Marital property division rules are usually equitable division or community property.

Equitable division

In most states, the “equitable division” rule applies to marital property, so the court fairly distributes assets during a divorce.

Community property

Here are the nine community property states in the U.S:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

In a community property state, any assets or debts gained during the marriage are subject to a 50-50 split in the event of a divorce.

Although laws in most states do not mandate an even distribution of property in divorce, judges generally favor dividing assets equally in most situations. This approach is often viewed as fair since it ensures that each spouse receives a similar amount of marital property following the end of the marriage.

Should You Sell Your House Before Getting Divorced

It can be helpful to sell your house before getting divorced. An amicable divorce makes this easier.

When deciding to pursue a divorce, it is beneficial to place your home up for sale as soon as possible. Doing so allows you to take advantage of the most time possible and attract more interested buyers.

With this strategy in mind, there is an increased chance that a fair offer will come through – leaving both parties with maximum equity. Selling your home before getting divorced often lessens the burden by allowing you to acclimate to living independently in separate dwellings.

Take a seat with your divorce attorneys and openly communicate about the situation. Be sure that you both share the same sentiment —that it is necessary to sell your family home and that doing so would be in your best interests.

Property division can be a complicated business during divorces. To ensure that you get the best possible offer, it is essential to act as a unified front and come to an agreement before negotiating with potential buyers.

If you want to ensure your property will be safe from divorce court, try delaying the division of assets until after it is sold. The dynamic between you and your partner changes when the courts issue a final decree, so if waiting for the sale of your home feels uncomfortable, remember that this strategy could help protect you both from future complications or disagreements surrounding asset divisions.

Reasons Why You Might Need to Sell Your House

Several components may make it worthwhile to consider selling a house during a divorce. Find out more about them below.

Move on with your life

A house can store countless cherished and agonizing memories for divorcing spouses; starting from scratch is healthier.

The sale of a house allows both parties to begin anew – utilizing their earnings to build brighter futures and create new memories.

Mortgage payments

Navigating the mortgage on your own when you used to share contributions can be daunting, mainly when alimony and child support payments must come out of your monthly salary. The financial burden may sometimes feel overwhelming if there are other expenses for which you are now solely responsible.

Selling your home can be a great way to put money in your pocket and relocate somewhere better suited for this new chapter of life. It’s an infinitely preferable choice to foreclosure if you cannot keep up with payments.

Maintenance and repairs are expensive

In the face of financial hardships, keeping up with your home’s maintenance needs can be challenging. Especially after a divorce and reduced income, repairs become an expensive yet unavoidable burden.

Don’t worry – you don’t have to stay stressed or rack up huge fees on upkeep; you could sell the house as-is and avoid those high costs.


Being single again provides you with the opportunity to downsize your home, which can save money on utilities and rent. If child custody is not part of the equation, consider a studio apartment or smaller new home so that you have more money available for travel and investing in new experiences.


Now is your chance to move somewhere you’ve always desired. Maybe, until now, it was your partner’s job that had kept you in one spot and away from the beach or mountains – but not anymore! You’ll be able to use this opportunity to make a permanent change of scenery.

Selling the home permits both parties to go nearly anywhere. Additionally, relocating cities gives you a chance for a fresh beginning in an entirely new place.

Close up of a homeowner signing a variety of divorce papers. Selling a house during a divorce requires the signature of both partners

How to Sell Your House During a Divorce

Although selling the house during divorce resembles any other sale, you must divide assets distinctly.

Prep the home

You must renovate and improve to get market value for your home. But sometimes, if the condition of a property isn’t ideal, spending time preparing it for sale can be an inefficient use of resources.

In these cases, selling as-is may be a more practical option — even though potential buyers will likely offer less than they would have otherwise. You might also hire a real estate agent or a Realtor. Disclaimer: a real estate agent’s commission can cost you thousands of dollars.

Consider a cash buyer

Are you eager to unload your house? Real estate investors have the potential of taking it off your hands fast, and although you might obtain less money for it as compared to a standard sale, this is an ideal solution if time is of the essence.

Field offers

After you list your property, a potential offer could come soon or take some time. You can accept the offer quickly or negotiate with them through counteroffers. Generally, there is an exchange of terms and conditions before everyone agrees on the sale price – so don’t be surprised if this process drags out for a while.

Deal with closing costs

Before you can receive your share of the proceeds from selling a house due to divorce, numerous costs must be accounted for. These will help ensure everything runs smoothly and all expenses have been handled.

For instance, the fees charged by estate agents, existing mortgage payments, and some credit lines associated with your property must be considered. A significant portion of proceeds must go towards dealing with these additional extras.

Split the funds

It’s now time to split the funds according to your agreement and with the help of counsel. Depending on state regulations in your area, you may need to abide by a specific protocol concerning asset division during divorce proceedings.

Naturally, any prenuptial arrangements must be respected; therefore, it is possible that the property could still be owned by one of the parties in a divorce, and thus they will not gain financially from its sale.

A judge explains argues with a homeowner about their house. Courts can and do step in when selling a house during a divorce

Can Courts Order the Sale of Your Home?

The court can compel you to sell your home due to their authority, which allows them to transfer property from one spouse to another or order a sale of the property during a divorce.

When the parties involved in a divorce cannot agree and a trial is needed, the court will issue its property orders. These could include selling or transferring real estate properties. Once these orders take effect upon finalizing the divorce, they must be followed without room for change unless a successful appeal process is initiated.

When the individuals involved reach a mutual understanding concerning the house or if the court establishes related orders with terms that may lead to an eventual order of sale. This often occurs when one individual will continue living in or owning the residence while another still holds rights. The court will give a timeline for the person staying in the house to pay off the other party.

What to do if You Don’t Want to Sell Your House During a Divorce

It’s my house, and I don’t want to sell it. If that sounds like you, we’ve got you covered.

To determine whether maintaining your current home is financially feasible, you must first appraise the house’s worth. After that step has been completed, it will be necessary for you to remove your spouse’s name from the deed.

There are many financial factors to consider when considering the cost of keeping your home. Budgeting for your household is essential to ensure you can make ends meet.

As you consider the pros and cons of keeping your home as part of your divorce settlement, ask yourself what sacrifices might be necessary to maintain this pricey asset. Ultimately, there will be consequences that come with such a decision.

Regarding financing a home post-divorce, there are two potential options. One is the buyout of your ex’s equity with assets you already own, and the other option is to take out a cash-out refinance that would free up your ex’s share and re-mortgaging any remaining balance on the mortgage.

When you desire to maintain ownership of your house post-divorce, it might be necessary to use other resources to compensate for your ex’s portion of the equity in the home. If you lack the funds to pay for your home in full, then it may be necessary to relinquish any entitlement you have over other marital assets like investments, retirement, or vehicles.


Selling a house during divorce is never an easy decision. Whether you’re looking to split the proceeds or maintain full ownership of your home, weighing the pros and cons before making a final choice is essential.

Refinancing to stay in the house can be an option, but it’s not easy.

Divorcing couples who decide to sell their home and divide the proceeds when the home sells can expect some disagreement on list prices and how to divide the money as both parties look out for their financial future. However, this option is much less complicated than attempting to keep the house.

Selling your home could be your optimal decision, allowing you to start over and become a new homeowner. It provides an opportunity for closure so that you can begin anew without carrying any burdens from before.

Get an all cash offer on your home