Though most divorces involve a house, not all divorces coincide with the sale of a house. For both the divorce and the sale to have the best outcome possible requires experienced, detail-oriented divorce and family-law attorneys.
It’s become all the more challenging in the COVID era, with school schedules, custody arrangements, work locations, states of residence, housing prices, and more in a state of flux.
Evans Family Law Group (in Austin & Bastrop, TX) has significant experience in helping couples divorce while selling a home. Contact us to schedule a free consultation, or read on to learn more about some of the challenges we’ll help you navigate.
Why divorce makes the sale of a home more complicated, and vice versa
As with children, custody considerations, child support, debts, assets both spouses had a hand in gaining, or high net worth, the sale of real estate instantly makes a divorce more complicated. The home may factor into the division of assets, or itself be “divided.”
Here are some of the many legal factors that can complicate divorces that accompany the sale of a home:
- The terms and timeline of the sale may depend on the results of the divorce proceedings, and the divorce proceedings may have become contentious over the house, resulting in apparent gridlock.
- The “wrong” spouse’s name may be on the title of the house.
- One or more spouses may have bad credit and cannot sustain the credit-score damage caused by a foreclosure.
- The spouse who owns the home may not be the one who lives there or can continue to live there.
- The spouse who owns the home may not be the one awarded child custody.
- One spouse may have tried already (illegally) to sell the home.
- The divorce may have happened years beforehand, but both spouses may have continued to live under the same roof until a certain milestone (e.g. a child’s graduation from school).
- If the home needs repairs, one or both of the spouses will need to improve the condition of the home before it can be sold at fair market value and in a timely manner.
- The home may include a significant asset in one spouse’s business, like a home office or other workspace.
- If it is a rental property, the home itself represents an income stream, and at least one of the spouses may serve as a landlord/landlady.
- One spouse may be a caregiver of an older parent or other relative who also lives at the home.
- A remarriage or other new relationship may be involved, especially in a post-divorce home sale, and the spouse’s new partner may complicate the sale.
- Often, emotions run high on both sides, and may cloud the judgment of one or more parties in the divorce.
- Nobody in the family may want to sell the house, even though it may be the only legally and financially sensible option.
- Divorce proceedings alone tend to require time, effort, and likewise for the process of selling a home, and so dealing with both challenges around the same can seem overwhelming.
General best-practices for balancing a divorce and a home sale
Everyone’s situation is unique, and we are not familiar with your situation yet, so please do not interpret any of this as legal advice. Still, we can offer a few pieces of advice that (we hope) seem like common sense that just happen to come from experienced family-law attorneys:
- If first you can work with an attorney on a complete assessment of each spouse’s assets and debts, we recommend you do so. Typically a house is one of the largest assets (if not the largest asset) and a significant debt, but other assets, debts, obligations, and particulars often factor into what happens to the house.
- If first you can finalize any child custody arrangements, we recommend you do so. Determining first what is best for the children and your family should make the sale of the home more likely to support that goal, rather than conflict with it.
- If first you can avoid selling the home until AFTER the divorce is finalized, we recommend you do so. Of course, often that is not possible, but it’s generally easier to undertake one difficult process at a time rather than two.
Get help balancing your divorce and home sale
We can help you do what’s best with your house so you can do what’s best for your household. We have helped many Texas families get through a divorce that overlapped with a home sale, and can probably help you, too. Contact our Austin office or Bastrop office today to schedule a free consultation.