Selling the Family Home During a Divorce

Dividing marital property in a divorce sometimes requires selling the marital home, which is often the couple’s single greatest asset. This usually happens when other options prove unworkable, such as having one spouse keep the home in return for giving up some other property. If a home sale is inevitable, the spouses need to be on the same page if they want to bring about the best results.

People getting a divorce often have significant disagreements about money and property. However, when they have the common goal of selling the family home, they must put their differences aside. Assuming the home is jointly owned, the spouses have an equal say over the sale and the distribution of proceeds. They should be prepared to compromise with a view toward obtaining the maximum price possible. If either of them acts unreasonably, the property may not sell or the price might be lower.

Before listing the property, the spouses should create a mutually acceptable home sale plan. Having each party’s rights and responsibilities written out and acknowledged beforehand will help prevent unwelcome surprises and unnecessary disputes. The plan should address the following issues:

  • Sales agent — The spouses should agree on a real estate agent or at least on the qualifications of any agent that will be selected. The agent should have experience with divorce sales.
  • Essential terms —The spouses should set an acceptable target price and sale timeframe for the home. This will make it easier to quickly respond to offers from potential buyers.
  • Division of proceeds — The parties should have an agreement on the division of proceeds and the apportionment of expenses, such as realtor fees, closing costs, pre-sale home repairs and taxes.
  • Interim arrangements — There should be arrangements for who will be staying in the home while it is up for sale. In addition, the plan should be clear as to who will be paying the mortgage, taxes, insurance and maintenance on the home pending the sale.
  • Decision-making authority — Ordinarily, any acceptance of offers or approval of contract changes would require the consent of both spouses. However, one spouse can give the other the authority to make minor decisions, i.e., a repair costing less than $100 or a postponement of the closing date by a day or two. This can help save the time needed to get dual consent.

Most importantly, the divorcing spouses should commit to communicating with one another and with their divorce attorneys about the home sale. The process will be smoother when the parties can put aside personal differences and focus on the benefits of selling the home at a good price and within a reasonable amount of time.

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. is a full-service family law firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, representing people throughout Maricopa County in all aspects of divorce proceedings. Contact us online or call 602-789-3497 for a consultation.