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My Ex Refuses to Sell the House: What are My Options?

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My Ex Refuses to Sell the House-How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

When a relationship comes to an end, the division of assets can be a contentious issue. One of the most common sources of conflict is the family home. In some cases, one partner refuses to sell the house, leading to a deadlock in the separation process.

 Don’t let your ex’s refusal to sell the house prevent you from moving forward with your life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and start the process of resolving this issue in a way that is fair and equitable for both parties.

We will cover the following topics

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 23.5% of divorced couples own their homes jointly after separation. Ensure you’re on the right side of this statistic by reaching out for assistance. 

How Does Property Division Impact Your Assets 

In Arizona, the division of property during a divorce is guided by the principles of community property.

The marital home, often one of the most significant assets, plays a central role in this division.

Ownership Before Divorce:

  • Community Property Status: Under A.R.S. § 25-211, a house purchased during the marriage is considered community property and owned equally by both spouses, regardless of whose name is on the title.
  • Separate Property Status: If one spouse purchased the house before the marriage or received it as a gift or inheritance, it remains their separate property as outlined in A.R.S. § 25-213.
  • Mixed Ownership: Sometimes, a house may have both separate and community interests. For instance, if one spouse used separate funds for a down payment but the mortgage was paid with community income, it becomes a mixed-ownership asset.

Ownership After Divorce:

Selling the House: The most straightforward way to divide the marital home is to sell it and split the proceeds equitably. This can involve:

    • Agreeing on a sale price or getting an appraisal.
    • Paying off any remaining mortgage.
    • Dividing the net proceeds based on the divorce settlement.
  • One Spouse Keeps the House: Alternatively, one spouse can keep the house by:
    • Buying out the other spouse’s share, typically through refinancing.
    • Offering other marital assets to balance the division.
    • Assuming full responsibility for any remaining mortgage.
  • Deferred Sale: In cases involving minor children, the court may order a deferred sale, allowing one spouse to remain in the home until the children reach a certain age. This option requires:
    • Clear terms on how maintenance costs and taxes will be shared.
    • A future date or event triggering the sale or transfer of ownership.

Challenges in Dividing the House:

  • Emotional Attachment: Spouses may have strong emotional ties to the home, complicating negotiations.
  • Valuation Disputes: Conflicting opinions on the home’s value can lead to disputes.
  • Market Conditions: Selling in a down market may result in a financial loss.

Ultimately, the division of the marital home is influenced by various factors, including the couple’s financial situation, the needs of any children involved, and each spouse’s preferences. Understanding how property division laws apply to your specific circumstances can help ensure a fair and equitable outcome.

What is Joint Property Ownership 

Joint property ownership refers to a legal arrangement in which two or more individuals share ownership of a property. In Arizona, community property laws govern marital property ownership.

which means that any assets acquired during the marriage are typically considered jointly owned by both spouses. 

There are two primary forms of joint property ownership in Arizona:

  1. Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS): Both spouses share equal ownership interests in the property. If one spouse passes away, the other automatically inherits the deceased spouse’s share.
  2. Tenants in Common: Each spouse owns a specified percentage of the property, which may not necessarily be equal. When one spouse dies, their share does not automatically transfer to the surviving spouse but can be inherited by beneficiaries named in their will.

In a divorce, the marital home is often classified as community property, meaning both parties have an equal interest in the house.

This classification remains in place even if only one spouse’s name is on the title.

What If My-Ex Spouse Refuses to Sell

When your ex-spouse refuses to sell the marital home despite an agreement or court order, it can complicate the property division process. However, Arizona law provides several solutions to ensure a fair outcome.

 

Court-Ordered Sale

If a divorce decree or settlement agreement requires the sale of the house, but your ex-spouse refuses to comply, you can file a motion to enforce the court order. In such cases, the judge may appoint a neutral third party, such as a real estate agent or special commissioner, to handle the sale and ensure the proceeds are divided fairly.

 

Partition Action

Arizona law provides a legal remedy known as a partition action. According to A.R.S. § 12-1218, a partition action allows a co-owner of real estate to force the sale of jointly owned property. This legal action requires the court to assess the ownership interests of each party and order the property to be sold, with proceeds distributed according to ownership percentages.

 

Contempt of Court

If your ex-spouse is blatantly ignoring a court order to sell the marital home, they may be held in contempt of court. Refusal to follow a court order can result in penalties such as fines, community service, or even jail time, which can pressure your ex-spouse into cooperating with the sale.

 

Mediation or Negotiation

In some cases, refusal to sell may stem from emotional attachment or misunderstanding. Mediation or negotiation with a neutral third party can help reach a compromise that avoids the stress and cost of litigation.

 

Court-Appointed Receiver

If these options fail, the court can appoint a receiver to manage and sell the property on behalf of both parties. The receiver will ensure the sale proceeds smoothly and that the interests of both parties are respected.

Can You Force a Sale? 

In Arizona, it’s possible to force the sale of a marital home under certain conditions, particularly when one spouse refuses to cooperate.

However, your ex-spouse may also take certain actions to prevent the sale, complicating the process.

Actions to Force a Sale

  • Court Judgment: If the property division agreement specifies a sale but your ex-spouse refuses, you can file a motion to enforce the court’s order. The judge may appoint a neutral third party, such as a real estate agent or special commissioner, to manage the sale.
  • Partition Action: If the property wasn’t specifically allocated in a divorce decree, filing a partition action under A.R.S. § 12-1218 can compel a sale. The court will assess ownership interests and order the property sold, with proceeds divided accordingly.
  • Contempt of Court: If your ex-spouse is in direct violation of a court order, they may be held in contempt. Penalties could include fines, community service, or jail time, pressuring them to comply with the sale.
  • Court-Appointed Receiver: If mediation and negotiation fail, the court can appoint a receiver to manage and sell the property on behalf of both parties, ensuring the sale goes smoothly.

Actions to Prevent a Sale

  • Filing an Appeal: Your ex-spouse can appeal the court’s decision, delaying the sale. The appeal must be based on legitimate legal grounds, such as procedural errors or misinterpretation of the law.
  • Requesting a Deferred Sale: If children are involved, your ex-spouse might request a deferred sale to allow them to remain in the home until the children reach a certain age.
  • Challenging Valuation: Disputes over the home’s value can arise if your ex-spouse believes it has been undervalued. They may request a new appraisal or provide evidence to contest the valuation.
  • Financial Inability: Your ex-spouse could claim financial hardship or inability to afford alternative housing, arguing that selling the home would leave them in a precarious situation.
  • Refusal to Cooperate: Even without legitimate grounds, your ex-spouse can refuse to cooperate by stalling paperwork, not maintaining the property, or otherwise making the sale difficult.

While it is possible to force the sale of the marital home in Arizona, your ex-spouse may attempt to prevent it through legal challenges, appeals, or non-cooperation. 

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

Contact a Family Law Legal Paraprofessional

If your ex refuses to sell the marital home and you’re facing challenges dividing property, the family law legal paraprofessionals at De Novo Law can help. With their comprehensive understanding of Arizona divorce law and property division, they can guide you through the legal process with tailored strategies that protect your rights.

For more information about our services or to schedule a consultation, you can also reach us directly at (480) 725-2200 .

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.

CONTACT US

Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

10 Facts for Selling a House During Divorce or After a Divorce

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Figuring out what to do with your marital home can be one of the most difficult decisions you and your estranged spouse might have to negotiate. Many people are attached to their homes and find it hard to let them go. However, it might be necessary for you to downsize and find a more affordable home instead of remaining in your house.

Similarly, if you have significant home equity in divorce, you might not be able to afford to buy out your spouse’s interest. If you have a mortgage in both of your names, selling a house during divorce and splitting equity might be the best solution to separating your finances.

Some people believe that they must retain divorce attorneys to help them navigate property division issues, including selling their marital homes. However, you can also choose to retain a licensed legal paraprofessional from De Novo Law.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP, is licensed by the Arizona Supreme Court to handle divorce cases and property division issues on behalf of her clients and to represent them in court at a more affordable cost than what you would typically be charged by a divorce attorney.

Here are 10 facts about selling a house during divorce and after divorce that you should keep in mind when you are trying to figure out what to do about your marital home.

5 Facts About Selling a House During Divorce

If you are considering selling a house during divorce and splitting equity with your spouse, keep the following five facts in mind.

1. The Court Can’t Order a Party to Sell Before a Divorce Decree

If you want to sell your marital home, your estranged spouse must agree. While you can get temporary orders from the court, the judge can’t order your spouse to agree to sell your home.

In Saxon v. Riddel, 493 P.2d 127 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1972), the Arizona Court of Appeal ruled that trial courts cannot enter temporary orders to force a spouse to sell his or her interest in the shared marital property even when the other spouse wants to sell and has found a buyer with a good offer.

This means your spouse will need to agree to sell your house before you can put it on the market.

However, if you owned a home before you were married in your name and still own it, it is your separate property and is not a part of the marital estate. In that case, you won’t have to get your spouse’s consent to sell your separate property.

 


 

2. The Parties Must Get Clearance to Sell Their Home During a Divorce

At the time your divorce case is filed, the court issues several restraining orders enjoining either you or your spouse from selling marital property or spoliating assets. These restraining orders also prevent you from selling your home without an agreement and order by the court. 

To get an order lifting the restraining order for selling a house during divorce and splitting equity, you and your spouse will need to draft and sign a stipulated agreement agreeing to place your home on the market. You will need to file your stipulation with the court.

Once you’ve filed it, the court will issue it as an order so that you and your spouse can move forward with selling your marital home.

 


 

3. Staging Is Important to Prevent Signs the Parties Are Divorcing

When you place your home on the market during a divorce, you need to remove signs that you are divorcing.

This is because prospective buyers and real estate agents notice signs of divorce and might then try to get you to agree to a lower price or less favorable terms.

Buyers understand that divorcing couples are motivated sellers and might need to sell their homes quickly. Try to remove the following signs that a divorce is pending:

  • Missing pictures from the wall
  • Missing furniture/sparse furnishings
  • Empty closets
  • Unkempt landscaping
  • Other indicators of stress/distress

You might want to get help from a real estate agent with staging your home so that it appears more inviting. If your spouse has moved out, try to fill in the voids left behind.

If you and your spouse are both in the home during the divorce, avoid arguing or the appearance of conflict when prospective buyers come to view your home, and avoid telling them your reason for selling is a divorce.

 


 

4. A Spouse Who Can Buyout the Other Should Be Allowed to Do So

If your spouse truly wishes to remain in your marital home and doesn’t want to sell it, you should give him or her the chance to buy out your home equity in divorce. If you choose to do this, make sure your spouse is in a position to refinance the home in his or her name alone.

If he or she doesn’t have the financial means to assume the mortgage, your legal paraprofessional can negotiate with your spouse to try to secure an agreement to sell your home to get your name off the deed and the mortgage.

You won’t want your name to remain on the mortgage after your divorce because it could have the following impacts:

  • Tie up your credit and prevent you from buying a new home because of your debt-to-income ratio
  • Make your credit score decline if your spouse fails to keep up with the mortgage payments
  • Prevent you from separating your finances so that you can move forward with your life

If your spouse says that he or she can refinance the home, set a deadline for him or her to do so. If your spouse can’t refinance the home in their name within that deadline, your agreement should stipulate that the home will have to be placed on the market when the deadline passes without refinancing.

 


 

5. The Parties Should Hire a Neutral Real Estate Agent

If you both agree that selling your home during your divorce and splitting equity is the best idea, you should agree to hire a neutral real estate agent to represent both of your interests when selling your home.

Only choose someone you both agree to hire so that the real estate agent will be someone whom you both trust.

Once you have hired a real estate agent, have only one of you serve as the point of contact with the real estate agent.

This can simplify the process since the agent won’t have to communicate with each of you and potentially sift through conflicting instructions.

5 Facts About Selling a House After a Divorce

If you get the marital house in your divorce, selling it after your divorce is final can be easier than trying to sell it while your divorce is pending. At this point, you also shouldn’t have to deal with home equity in divorce since your decree should already include that aspect.

Here are five facts you should know about selling your house after your divorce.

1. The Other Spouse’s Name Should Be Removed from the Deed

If you received the home in your divorce property division, your spouse’s name should not remain on the deed. If it is, you need to go to get a copy of your deed from the recorder’s office. Create a new deed that transfers the title to your home from your ex-spouse to you alone.

Once the new deed has been signed, record it and retain a copy showing that it is in your name only.

If you have a mortgage in both of your names, you can show your lender your divorce decree and submit a quitclaim deed. The lender might allow you to refinance the mortgage in your name alone as long as you can handle it. Otherwise, you might have to sell the home to get both of your names off of the mortgage.

 


 

2. The Divorce Can Be Found by Prospective Buyers

Divorce cases are matters of public record, which means that prospective buyers can find that you recently divorced. However, this does not mean that they will know your motivation for selling your home since it is yours alone.

Even if a potential buyer discovers your divorce, it is unlikely that the buyer will know why you are selling or try to use your divorce to lowball you.

 


 

3. Staging Will Be Important to Fill in Voids

After dividing your property in your divorce, your home might be sparsely furnished with voids throughout the home. Staging will be critical in helping you secure a good sales price.

Work with your real estate agent for ideas on how to stage your home to place it in the best light. You will want it to appear welcoming to interested buyers.

 


 

4. You Will Have More Control Over the Process

One advantage of selling your home after divorcing is that you will have control over the process. You won’t have to deal with your ex-spouse in making decisions about offers or how the process should work. 

 


 

5. Buyers Won’t Necessarily Know Your Motivation for Selling

Even though you recently divorced, buyers won’t necessarily know why you are selling your home. This means that you won’t have to worry about buyers trying to use your divorce as a way to secure more advantages in the sale.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

Talk to Stephanie Villalobos, LP

If you are filing for divorce in Arizona and want to sell your home, you should speak to Licensed Legal Paraprofessional Stephanie Villalobos about how to handle your property division and your divorce.

Dealing with home equity in divorce can lead to significant conflict. Ms. Villalobos can represent you throughout your case and work to secure an agreement that will protect your interests. Call (480) 725-2200 to schedule a free consultation for an affordable divorce.

Call Stephanie Villalobos, LP For Immediate Help

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.

CONTACT US

Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.