What Can You Do if Your Ex-Spouse Delays the Sale of Your House? | CA Law
Often a house is the largest asset any couple will ever own together. Whenever a couple decides to split up, the value that each individual holds in the house can be instrumental to making a fresh start. If you own a house with your ex-spouse in California, what are you entitled to? If your ex-spouse delays in selling it, what can you do?
First some background
California is a community property state, which means that all of the money earned by either person during marriage belongs equally to each of you, unless you agreed differently in writing before marriage. When you buy a house with earnings accumulated during the marriage, it is community property, and you and your ex-spouse own it equally. If you divorce, your house will be divided equally between you. If your house has increased in value over the years, you and your ex-spouse will each be entitled to 50% of its increased value. Even if you believe you own a house that is completely your separate property, your ex might be entitled to a significant portion of its value.
Oftentimes when a couple divorces, one person buys out the interest of their ex-spouse and takes over the mortgage through a refinance. If a couple cannot agree on what to do with the house, however, a judge will decide after hearing arguments from each individual. Usually, the judge will order the sale of the house and splitting the sale proceeds.
When one partner does not want to sell but there is an order to do so
Once the court has ordered the sale of their house, the couple must make important decisions, such as: getting a real estate agent, whether to make improvements, and when to put the house on the market. There may even be an order that one individual can live in the house until it is sold. Needless to say, it is best if the former couple cooperates in making these decisions. Sometimes, however, one person will drag their feet.
If your ex-spouse delays the sale of your house, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. You may need to go back to court several times to get your ex-spouse to comply with the court’s order to sell. This can take months. In the end, however, your stalling ex-spouse will most probably need to pay all attorney fees, including yours. If there is a drop in value due to the stalling party’s conduct between the original court order and the sale of the house, your ex will need to make up the difference.
What if you are not married?
If you are not married and own a property together with your ex-partner, you can go to court and file a partition lawsuit to force the division of the property. A court-ordered sale is normally the result.
If you are getting divorced and want to better understand your legal and financial rights to your house or other community property, please contact our office for a consultation.
Attorney Christina Sherman is a Marin County CA family law attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, specializing in divorce, child custody and support, marital contracts and other family law issues.
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