During a divorce, selling the house might seem like the only option that will cover associated costs, providing you with money for your next home and allowing you to get on with your life. It therefore creates a difficult situation if your ex doesn’t want to sell. What can you do? What does the law allow? We provide you with the answers.

The only way you can force the sale of your house is by getting a court order, known as an, ‘Order for Sale’. This asks your ex to provide suitable evidence for why they refuse to sell. Where the court can’t find a reasonable counterargument, the Order for Sale states your ex must agree to the selling of your house. The court would then decide each of your shares in the house so that on sale, the value can be divided as specified.

The court will however take many factors into consideration before enforcing the Order for Sale. Are children involved? Has the mortgage been paid off? What are the intentions of both parties? Can you both afford to buy new homes? If both parties would be better off for selling, then it is likely an Order of Sale will be obtained. However, if not, or if your home is in negative equity then this is extremely unlikely.

It’s also important to remember that your ex will still have marital home rights during your divorce (See our previous blog post, ‘My ex was paying the mortgage and wants to sell. What are my options?’ for more detail on this), so any action taken against these rights may be viewed negatively by the court. In extreme cases, your ex may try to take an occupation order out against you. This means that even if you’re the sole or a joint owner, you’d have to leave the home, making it impossible for you to sell the house. It also takes months to not only get, but then enforce the court order and can cost in the thousands. Forcing the sale may seem like a good idea, but beware of the potential and unavoidable negatives.

If you are intent on selling the house, consider the following options:

Selling your house to your ex

If you end up getting the house in your settlement, you could sell it to your ex. Depending on what they received (usually money and other valuable assets) they may then have the funds for the sale. This is obviously a win-win situation, as you sell your house and your ex gets to keep it. However, bear in mind the house may sell at a reduced rate to accommodate your ex’s desires to keep it.

Buying their share of the house

If you jointly own your house with your ex, you could buy out their share, making you sole owner and allowing you to sell it at will. This process is long-winded but not impossible. You’ll need to get the house valued and agree a share price, and then, convince your mortgage lender to change the names on the agreement. They may not comply if they think you initially wouldn’t be able to make the repayments and, depending on the market, if the house may take a while to sell. You’ll also need a

solicitor to change the ownership from joint to sole tenancy. Think carefully about this option as it can incur great costs, eating away at the money you’ll eventually make from the sale. It would however provide your ex with money, a benefit that may help them agree to a sale.

Both the processes of selling the house and divorce can be difficult, and this is especially the case when disagreements arise. Always try to see your ex’s point of view and emphasise how selling would benefit them too. As with anything concerning divorce, discuss all potential options with your ex to try to come to an agreeable solution.

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