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Divorce and Selling Your Home

Two years ago, my husband and I divorced. We owned a home together. Because I was the one who sought the divorce and had moved to an apartment, there was never really any discussion about who would keep the house. It was assumed my former husband would – we also owned two large dogs and the house had a fenced-in backyard great for them.

Our divorce was amicable, and my former husband was able to “buy me out” of my share of the home by refinancing it. We were lucky, I believe. There was no child custody involved (our son is in college); no alimony issues, and my former husband offered to let me have any furniture and other household items I would like.

However, divorces do not always play out this way. Some couples must sell their home in order to divide proceeds during the divorce, and this still seems the most popular option, although sometimes it makes sense for one spouse to keep the house if they can afford to and would like to provide stability to the children.

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According to a March 10, 2019 article called “Selling a House While Getting a Divorce: What you Need to Know,” in realtybiznews.com, “Selling a property during a divorce is different than a traditional sale. Your Realtor cannot play favorites, but must be a voice of reason and a neutral party so both spouses end up on the same page.

“There are obvious benefits of selling your home during the actual divorce process. The proceeds from the house sale will allow both parties to move on quicker and maybe even invest in a new home.”

Also, if couples can agree on this sale, it will be easier for them to handle other joint financial matters. The article continues, “Most couples will find that they have some joint debts, such as loans, outstanding credit car balances, and perhaps even pension arrangements that need to be agreed on.” (This was the case in my own divorce).

Preparing to sell your home during a divorce is not unlike preparing for a regular sale – you want your home to look its best. If this means investing in fresh paint, new flooring and minor repairs, this should be done with both parties on board.

Accepting an offer while going through a divorce is sometimes the trickiest part of the home sale. Both spouses need to be working together with their Realtor. If an offer comes in that is less than they were hoping for, they must talk the pluses and minuses through with their agent.

Dividing the proceeds from the home sale takes into account state laws on communal property, whether there was a pre-nuptial agreement, and what debts must be paid from the proceeds of the sale.

Final thoughts: “When selling a home while getting a divorce, it is important for both spouses to be on the same page from the get-go. If possible, be amicable with your partner. Try to work things out fairly. Those that cannot end up wasting many months (and many high attorney’s bills).   

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