Selling a House After Divorce

Selling a house after divorce

Selling a house after divorce is a circumstance lots of us find ourselves in.

Separation and divorce can be an upsetting time for everyone, the stress of which can be compounded further by having to sell the former marital home after divorce.

From agreeing living terms to determining the separation of assets, it’s never an easy process. Add to this the costs associated with getting divorced and spate costs associated to selling a house and you have an even more stressful situation to deal with.

Selling a house after divorce occurs in about a third of divorce cases, with the profits being divided. It is natural to want to sell shared assets and move on quickly, but the traditional home selling process can be slow and hamper this completely.

Selling a house on the open market can take up to 295 days just to receive an offer depending on your location, meaning lengthy delays in your ability to find new accommodation and achieve closure.

Before any of this takes place however, there are a number of things to think about, such as who gets the house in a divorce with children, what happens when one part wants to sell the house fast and the other doesn’t, and tax implications.

Divorce and Children – Putting the family first

The family home is often the location of many memories and firsts, and it can be especially difficult to come to terms with selling it, especially if your children have grown up in the house. In addition to holding sentimental value, the family home is often the largest asset, which can make determining what

Family law concept. Divorce section of the property by legal means. Scissors cutting paper.

to do with it even more difficult. The most important thing is to place your family at the heart of all discussions, and look at what is best for any children involved. You should therefore keep up with mortgage payments to protect the asset from repossession. If the change in your circumstances has made it difficult to keep up with necessary payments, you should contact your lender immediately and make them aware of this.

You should also note that a court will take into consideration the needs of any children, especially younger children, when dealing with your divorce. If tensions are high, it’s important to try and take time apart and remain calm when discussing the sale of the home, especially when children are around and could possibly overhear. If you don’t feel this is possible, you may wish to instruct mediation to deal with the process effectively.

Understanding the rights to your home after divorce

In legal proceedings, your property will be referred to as the FMH, or “former matrimonial home“.

When you are separating, there are a few possible scenarios with regards to your home:

Keep the home as is

It may be that depending on the circumstances of your separation, you don’t choose to change the legal or financial status of the house, but one of you decides to move out. This could be the case if you have children nearing 18 and who will be leaving shortly for university or college.

Sell the house

If you both amicably decide that selling is the best decision, you can either instruct an estate agent to sell your former marital home on the open market, or if you want to achieve a guaranteed quicker turnaround you can contact a home buying company like Quick Move Now who directly purchase properties across England and Wales in as little as 7 days.

The money received from the sale of your marital home can then be split between you equally. This is often the most straightforward option especially if there are no children involved.

Buying your ex out of the house

If one partner from a marriage wants to remain in the home, there is the option of buying your ex out of the house. Whether or not this is possible will totally depend on the financial circumstances of the individual who wants to stay in the home and the lenders criteria. To discuss your options, you should contact your mortgage lender first.

There are many benefits to this method, most importantly you can separate your financial ties with your ex-partner and move on with your life. Which of the above choices you make depends on a number of things. The most important thing to remember is to try to reach a voluntary agreement. If both parties cannot agree on a way forward, you will have to go to court which can result in one or both parties not getting the end result they had hoped for and additional costs.

A court will look at a number of factors to come to a conclusion, such as; child welfare, income, employment status, additional assets and the financial standing of each party.

Selling a house after divorce

Should the decision be reached to sell the former marital home, you will need to examine the options for putting your home on the market. There are many considerations to make when selling a house, like;

  • How much is my house worth?
  • Will I use a high-street estate agent or sell myself online?
  • Should I contact a house buying company to see what they offer?
  • Should I take my property to auction?

Selling house after divorce - Choose which way to sell house

A good starting point is to have an idea of the how much your house is worth.You can either obtain this information yourself or you can entrust an estate agent to so this for you. In the event either party disputes the valuation, a court may order a local surveyor or estate agent to carry out a valuation.

Decide on the method of sale

Next, you’ll need to decide which method you will choose to sell your home.

For example, you may wish to put your house up for sale following the conventional route of instructing an estate agent. They will take care of all aspects of marketing the property; from photography, writing online listings, organising viewings to negotiating offers on your behalf. For this service, a traditional high street estate agents will normally charge a fee anywhere from 3-6% of the sale price of the property.

If you would prefer to take more of a hands-on approach, you could choose to list the property yourself with the assistance of an online estate agent. Online estate agents usually have a fixed fee (irrelevant of the sale price you achieve) and you can choose to be an involved as you like with the marketing. If you are still unsure about the difference between traditional high-street estate agents vs online estate agents, read more here >>

If you are in a hurry to sell and are not worried about achieving full market value, there are alternative options to selling on the open market.

You may decide selling a house at auction after divorce is the best route for you. While the house may sell for less than you could have achieved by listing it on the open market, the sale could take place much quicker than via traditional routes, which can be ideal if the split has become acrimonious.

You may decide you want to sell to a professional property buyer, like Quick Move Now. Companies that buy houses for cash will not pay full market value, instead they offer the quickest method of selling your house.

Quick Move Now, the UK’s leading cash home buyer, have over £6 million available to directly purchase properties meaning a quick turnaround is guaranteed! If you want the transaction handled with discretion so as not to draw unwanted attention towards the sale of your home, this could be a desirable option.


Where can I find out more about my divorce house rights?

You should contact legal representation to find out more about your rights when it comes to selling your home.

Can the courts postpone the sale of our house?

In England and Wales, the courts can issue a Mesher order, which in effect postpone the sale of a marital home, normally until the youngest child in the family turns 18 years of age. If there are no children involved but a deferment is still required, the courts may issue a Martin order, which entitles a specific party to continue to occupy the house. 

What should I consider when selling?

There are a number of things to consider before deciding whether a sale is the best course of action for you. If you do want to sell, you should think about whether achieving market value or a certain asking price is more important, or if you would be comfortable forgoing this for the sake of a speedy sale. You should also think about how moving could impact your children - for example, would they have to attend a different school? Will the move disrupt their study during a crucial period?  These and other factors should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to sell immediately, delay the sale, transfer ownership or remain in the house.

What happens if my spouse wants to sell, but I don’t?

Your spouse cannot force you to sell the family home. If an amicable, voluntary agreement cannot be reached, the case may be taken before the courts, which may result in an order to sell the home. This order will be granted depending on a number of factors, but should you wish to avoid this process, you could instruct a mediator to assist with negotiations.

This content was written by Quick Move Now
Published on 2nd July 2016
Last updated on 26th October 2018