Should We Sell the House Before We Divorce?

Whether you are best served by selling the house before or after a divorce hinges on many factors, financial and emotional.

At Samuelson Hause PLLC, we can help you understand the implications of selling your house before or after you file for a New York divorce. You should speak with a financial adviser, real estate experts, and other professionals to best understand the financial implications of your decision.

Selling the family home is not a requirement of divorce. You and your ex can choose to do one of the following:

  • Both parties retain joint ownership of the house.
  • One spouse buys out the other’s share of the property.
  • One spouse gives their share of the property to the other.

Benefits of Selling the House Before the Divorce

Most real estate markets currently benefit the seller. Prices are high and inventory is low. With the Federal Reserve raising interest rates and more on the horizon, selling sooner rather than later could be a smart financial move. Speaking with a local real estate expert is critical to fully understanding the market in which you live.

Putting the house up for sale before filing for divorce can help you maintain your negotiating power. Selling the house during or after the divorce can give buyers leverage if they learn why you are selling the home.

Living together while going through a divorce is not easy. Unfortunately, some couples do not have the financial means to maintain a house and a separate residence. Putting the house up for sale can give you both the breathing room you need.

You and your spouse can also avoid the common dispute over who stays in the house and how the mortgage and other expenses are paid. You can take your portion of the proceeds to begin living separately, whether that’s covering the cost of a rental or putting a down payment on another home. The proceeds from the sale could also be used to go back to school or register for a training program.

Selling the home sooner can also help you to move forward emotionally. Emotional ties to the home can be painful. New surroundings can create new opportunities.

Drawbacks of Selling the House Before the Divorce

Putting your house on the market before a divorce can delay the dissolution process. Even in today’s market, some homes take longer to sell than expected. High-priced homes often owned by high-net-worth couples typically take longer to sell.

Selling the home beforehand can also create additional strain on an already-distressed relationship. You and your spouse will have to decide on which realtor to use, the asking price of the home, and whether to accept an offer. You will have to cooperate with each other on preparing the house for sale and on handling showings.

If the sale of the home is part of your equitable distribution settlement, you will typically have to wait until the home sale closes before you are able to finalize the divorce. An exception to this wait is to have the future sale of the home written into the divorce decree. This stipulation must preserve your marital capital gains exclusion even if you are technically no longer married.

Considerations for Minor Children

The impacts of children still living at home should be a priority. Divorce is tumultuous. The age, maturity, and personality of the child are driving factors on whether they would thrive better at the current home.

Some child psychology experts believe that keeping them in the family house creates a sense of normalcy for them. Other studies suggest children accept a new normal in a new home. If you do find a new home, keeping children in the same school and involved with the same friends and extracurricular activities can be grounding for them.

Implications of the Marital Home in a Divorce Decree

The marital home is only one aspect – albeit an important one – of a divorce decree or separation agreement. By talking to one of our attorneys, you will have a full understanding of your rights and how the marital home impacts other issues such as child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance and support.

Call (516) 584-4685 to schedule a consultation with us before making any decision about the home or filing for divorce.