Sell­ing the house af­ter di­vorce

Whitsunday Times - - REAL ESTATE - — REA

THERE’S no get­ting around it – di­vorces are rarely pleas­ant and things of­ten get even more messy when the time comes to sell a cou­ple’s big­gest and most ex­pen­sive joint as­set: Their fam­ily home.

So what do you need to know when you call time on your mar­riage and need to sell the house?

Here is some key in­for­ma­tion on the process.

House falls into a larger pot

Sell­ing a house af­ter a di­vorce is not sim­ply a mat­ter of flog­ging the house and split­ting the pro­ceeds.

The house is usu­ally a part of a larger group of as­sets, which are all com­bined into a pool that is then split be­tween both par­ties at agreed amounts.

Fam­ily lawyer Marion Mor­ri­son-Boyd, from John R. Quinn and Co, says if one party keeps other ex­pen­sive as­sets, they might re­ceive a smaller por­tion of the house’s sale price.

“The house is of­ten part of the div­i­dends that have to be sold to be split, so each party can re­ceive part of the as­sets,” she says.

Most cou­ples sell

Mor­ri­son-Boyd says that in most cases, for­mer spouses sell the house and move into their own sep­a­rate prop­er­ties, though some do choose to buy out their part­ner.

“A lot of peo­ple just can’t af­ford to keep the house,” she says. “To buy an­other house you of­ten have to sell the first house or some­one has to re­mort­gage it to pay out the other side.”

Agree­ing on price

For a house to be sold, both peo­ple must agree on the price. That means set­tling on a fig­ure if it’s to be sold pri­vately, or agree­ing on a price you’ll both be happy with at auc­tion.

Mor­ri­son-Boyd says the price is of­ten one of the big­gest points of con­tention.

“The par­ties have to agree on the amount of money that the house is sold for, so it can be a lot of fric­tion for an agent,” she says.

“It’s a mat­ter of agree­ing whether to sell it for the amount that the high­est bid­der wants, or if it gets passed in, you of­ten have an­other ar­gu­ment about what to sell it for. The bot­tom line is the house has to be sold.”

If you can’t agree?

Judges can en­force an or­der for a house to be sold so the div­i­dends can be split, and can also make an or­der for a pro­fes­sional, in­de­pen­dent val­uer to com­plete a val­u­a­tion.

“The orders have to be fol­lowed,” Mor­ri­son-Boyd says. “You should use a fam­ily lawyer to en­sure that the per­son gets the amount of money they should, ac­cord­ing to the orders.”

It doesn’t pay to hag­gle

Mor­ri­son-Boyd says the worst thing cou­ples can do is ar­gue over their pos­ses­sions and get the lawyers in­volved.

“With fur­ni­ture and goods in the house, if they’re ar­gu­ing about fur­ni­ture – which we beg them not to, be­cause they’ll pay us more than what it’ll cost to buy a whole house of fur­ni­ture at IKEA – peo­ple spend a lot of money fight­ing about a funny lit­tle couch in the back room,” she says. “With what they end up pay­ing us, they could buy a new one.”

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