Getting divorced is one of the most emotionally taxing events that can happen to a person. Even if the divorce is amicable, your life is still being uprooted and that’s not easy to handle. The last thing you want to think about is the division of assets, but the sooner it’s done, the easier it will be to start over. And as a home is the most valuable asset most people have, you may want to consider selling your house during a divorce.
Otherwise, even in the best of situations, things can quickly get too complex and even more unpleasant. Think of it as ripping off a bandaid – the quicker you do it, the less it will hurt. And, to the best of your abilities, try to follow your reason and not your emotions. In this article, we’ll explain how, and when, you can sell your house during a divorce and give some advice on how to do it.
Before you can know if you can sell your house during a divorce, you need to know who the property belongs to. In California, the laws are relatively straightforward. The term community property is important – it is everything you and your spouse or domestic partner own together, which is everything you bought or earned while you were married.
This includes physical property like your house or car, and also banks accounts and cash, pension plans, stocks, etc., but also a mortgage, loans, and other debt. However, inheritance or gifts only one person received doesn’t count as community property and is considered separate property. What a person does with their separate property is fully up to their discretion.
The baseline in California is that community property is divided 50/50 during a divorce. So, if you’ve bought a home while you were still married, both you and your spouse will own half of it after the divorce, which means that you can’t simply sell it on your own.
In short, yes, but it’s contingent on a lot of factors. First and foremost, who is the rightful owner, which, as was previously mentioned, is likely both spouses. If a home is considered separate property – let’s say you inherited a home – then you can do with it as you please. However, the situation is rarely as clear-cut.
If your marital home is community property, the best option is if you both agree to sell it. So, yes, selling your house during divorce is possible even if neither party is the sole owner, but both of you must consent to sell the house. The easiest way to do it is to come up with a stipulation.
The stipulation should include all of the practical details pertinent to selling the home, such as the choice of realtor, the set price and how it is to be reduced if necessary, who’s share will be used to pay any liens, who gets to approve offers, etc. A stipulation is best created through both parties’ lawyers or a mediator.
However, if both parties can’t agree on what to do with the house, it becomes much more complicated. The home can still be sold but only by court order. You cannot sell the home on your own during divorce proceedings without the consent of your spouse or with permission from the courts.
Another option is to buy out your spouse’s share of the home (or vice-versa). As most homes are considered community property in California and are thus usually divided 50/50, one spouse can buy the home from the other – this is called a buyout. Effectively, it works the same as a home sale.
This also means that you will need to go through the standard steps of a home sale – getting a fair market assessment of the home, determining the buyout payment method, dealing with the mortgage, any outstanding debts on the home, etc. Once one party buys out the other party, the home becomes their sole property.
Then, in contentious divorce proceedings, the family home may become a chess piece that one spouse uses to hurt the other. In such a case, selling the home, even if by court order, is the best possible option. Finally, from a purely psychological standpoint, selling the home may be best so that both spouses can start fresh and without the emotional baggage of a family home.
However, if kids are in the picture, the situation gets even more complex. Maybe you want to maintain a semblance of stability and keep the kids in the same home they grew up in. Buying out may be best in this case, but that still leaves one person to deal with the mortgage, maintenance, and upkeep – once again, one household income has been split into two.
If you do decide to sell your house during a divorce, the first and most important piece of advice is to try to keep emotions out of it. But, saying it is one thing and actually doing is another, and understandably so. Thus, let’s look at some practical advice.
This is a must. Before you sell the home, you and your spouse should agree on who gets what. While a 50/50 split is the norm in California, it doesn’t have to be the case. The division of assets should be done through lawyers or a mediator.
Some realtors specialize in selling homes while the divorce is ongoing. As they don’t represent either side, but both spouses, they need to be both neutral and excellent communicators. It’s best if both parties agree on the realtor they will use, so that nobody feels slighted or forced into a bad deal.
Make copies of any and all documents that could be pertinent to selling the house. Copy the tax returns, the bank statements regarding the mortgage, the deed, any liens against the home, etc. The more documents you have, the safer you are.
If you and your spouse have agreed on selling the home, you can contact SleeveUp Homes and request a cash offer. You don’t need to worry about making any repairs, holding open houses, or prolonging the process any longer. We buy as-is, offer the best price possible, and can help you close in as little in 7 days so that you can try to get on with your life.