The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC Legal Blog

What happens if neither spouse wants the home?

When couples split, many times one or both of the spouses want to stay in the marital home. It does happen, though, that both declare a preference not to. For example, maybe the house has decreased in value, it is too small or both plan to move.

What could happen if both you and your spouse do not want to keep the home? Here are three top options.

One “volunteers” to keep it

Selling a house during your divorce can be tricky. The both of you need to agree on issues such as real estate agents, sale prices and how to handle home showings. Also, it is generally not allowable to sell a house without court approval during a divorce. Of course, it is possible to get court approval in cases such as a threat of foreclosure.

The easiest resolution may be for one of you to “volunteer” to keep the house. Once the divorce is final, the person who owns the house decides what to do with it.

The court orders a sale

If neither of you wants to volunteer to keep the house or to buy the other out (or cannot afford to buy the other out), then a judge might decide to have the house sold after finalization of the divorce.

You do a deferred distribution

You and your spouse (or the judge) can opt to do a deferred distribution. This is when one of you keeps the home until a certain date, after which you must sell it. Say that you have a child age 16 and want to keep life stable for that child. At the same time, you would like to sell the house when the child turns 18. A deferred distribution can help make that happen and bridge the gap between a soft home market and one that may get hotter in a couple of years. With a deferred distribution, both of you are typically on the hook for payments, insurance, fees, taxes and other homeownership costs.

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