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Selling a House when in a Divorce: What You Need to Know

Two double-story homes in a neighborhood in Wisconsin.

A lot of things need to be considered when you’re going through a divorce proceeding, and one of the most crucial things for you to consider is how you and your ex-spouse will split your assets. Things can be a little complicated if you’re planning on selling your house.

Here’s what you need to know in regard to selling a house when you’re going through a divorce, along with some tips for first-time home sellers.

Selling a House During a Divorce

Before you sell your house, you have to consider if it’s the best option. Ask yourself if getting a new home is a practical choice, and consider the costs of selling a house. You should also get an appraisal to determine your home’s value.

You and your partner should seek the advice of a lawyer or mediator to help you develop a workable agreement. A stipulation is the most effective method for selling a house after a divorce since it is fair to both parties and prevents the need for court intervention. However, not all married people can come to terms with a house sale condition.

If a stipulation can’t work, you should try dividing the large assets between you and your partner.

For example, you and your spouse may split the proceeds from the sale of joint assets like your main residence and second house. As a result, you’ll each have about equal access to the pooled assets.

Since you won’t have to wait for the sale of a house or face protracted debate over who receives a greater portion of a home, dividing substantial assets might be a speedier method to settle a divorce. To reach a fair settlement, you will still need to negotiate the value of each major asset, but you will not have to sell your house while going through a divorce.

Another option is co-owning the house. You and your ex-spouse can agree to co-own the house if you’re going through an amicable divorce. 

Who Gets The House in a Divorce? 

If you’re having a property dispute during your divorce process, your solution will mostly fall into one of three categories:

  • A buyout occurs when one spouse pays for the other’s legal interest in a house to gain full ownership of the property.
  • One spouse retains the use and occupancy of the family home for a certain amount of time. Often until the youngest kid reaches 18, then the house is sold.
  • The sale of the house happens quickly, and the proceeds are divided.

Each divorce is unique, making it difficult to generalize who gets the home. The degree to which the divorce is amicable or contentious will affect how each of the possibilities mentioned above plays out.

Marital or Separate Property

When getting a divorce, the first step in dividing assets is figuring out whether or not certain items of property belong to each spouse. Divorce proceedings will distribute marital assets in line with the state’s laws. However, a spouse’s separate property may be exempt from partition and granted only to that spouse.

All property and debts acquired by a married couple are considered marital property. Marriage checks are an example of marital property, as are the majority of debts accrued during the marriage. Properties, companies, investments, and even perks from a previous job might be considered marital property.

During a divorce, if the spouses can’t agree on whether or not an item is marital property, the court might look at additional evidence. To prove that a piece of property is shared between a married couple, it just has to have both names on the title.

In the case that you and your ex-spouse live in a community property state, separate property laws may not apply to your situation.

Community Property States – Wisconsin

Anything earned, gained, or incurred during the marriage is owned equally by both partners in a community property state. The property possessed before the marriage is one of the rare exclusions.

If you had property before getting married and never put your spouse’s name on the title, you still own it separately. Though your ex-spouse might be legally entitled to half of the appreciation the house accumulated during the duration of the marriage, this may be difficult, so always check with an attorney.

Louisiana, Nevada, Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are all examples of “community property” states. In Alaska, a couple has the option of making all their property community property upon filing with the state, which you may do either before or after the wedding.

Wisconsin is a communal property state. After a divorce, both parties will get an equal share of everything accumulated throughout the marriage. That encompasses assets, liabilities, and income. It makes no difference who brings in more money or who has more assets going into a marriage. An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties reach a settlement without needing the court to intervene.

Do You Have a Prenup?

The parties to marriage might sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to establish the division of property and debt in the event of a divorce.

Whether you reside in a state with community property laws or a state with equitable distribution laws, these agreements may help clear up a lot of uncertainty. Most couples opt for a prenuptial agreement when one or both partners comes into the marriage with substantial financial holdings.

Buying Out the Other Party

You and your partner may buy out the other if neither of you is willing to sell the house. 

Depending on the incomes of the parties involved, the amount of money each has contributed to the property, and the home’s prospective revenue, the buyout price might be more or less than half of the market value. If you don’t want to argue, you might offer to compromise for 50 percent of the home’s worth.

To buy out your spouse, you’ll need to have access to sufficient cash that isn’t part of the divorce settlement and the ability to pay the mortgage on your own so you might need a lender, or you might need to refinance your home. Sometimes, a buyout may be included in a bigger mortgage refinancing.

A lawyer assesses a woman and property laws, divorce, and selling a house when getting a divorce.

Using a Lawyer When buying Out Your Other Party 

Partnership buyouts may be complex and even contentious, so it’s important to have experts on your side, such as a family law attorney, a divorce attorney, and an accountant. You also need a realtor to help you through the home sale progress.

A lawyer experienced in mergers and acquisitions can help you through any legal issues that may arise during the buyout process, as well as assist you in compiling the necessary documentation and drafting a fair purchase and sale agreement.

If you need assistance making financial sense of the buyout, a company accountant may provide that. An accountant will review your finances, the company’s income, expenses, assets and liabilities, cash flow, your ownership interest in the firm, and sales projections for the future of the business after the buyout.

Negotiating the Sale of a Marital Home

If a sale of the property is preferred, it is essential that both parties be satisfied with the transaction. Bear in mind the following:

  • Regarding the home’s value, both parties should be on the same page.
  • An appraisal of the property is necessary for determining its true market value.
  • Whoever orders the assessment should do so with the other party’s consent.
  • Repairs, decluttering, cleaning, staging, lawn care, and general upkeep should all be handled per an agreement reached between the parties.
  • Work out who will make mortgage and tax payments until the deal closes. Avoiding foreclosure tax liens, and credit score damage will be aided by this.
  • A listing agent, a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) may help you sell your home, but first, you and the buyer need to come to an agreement on a plan.
  • The two parties shall mutually agree upon schedules.
  • Each party’s portion of the selling earnings should be guaranteed before the deal is finalized.

Quick Solutions for Selling a Home in a Divorce

When divorcing and living in the same house, it might be more effective to come up with quick answers than to attempt to discuss everything on your own or hire an expensive lawyer due to the complexity of the situation.

Several potential avenues for selling a home during a divorce are briefly discussed below for those in this position.

Try to find a buyer or investor in the area who is interested in purchasing a house. One of the easiest ways to sell a property is to sell it to a company specializing in purchasing houses. For example, you can find cash home buyers in Wisconsin to help you sell your marital home.

Engage the services of a real estate agent who handles listings. There’s a chance this strategy can help you earn more cash for your property, but it will take much longer to sell. Usually, you should expect to pay between 5% and 6% of the ultimate transaction price in real estate commissions.

In other words, you should consider selling your house to the owner. Selling your property without an agent might save you money, but it also could result in a lower sale price. You’ll have to handle everything related to the sale of your property alone, including coming up with a listing strategy, marketing, arranging for repairs, determining the home’s market worth, and more.


Selling a house after a divorce can be difficult, financially and emotionally, but it’s not impossible. The process can go smoothly with proper legal advice and a well-constructed plan. You just need to ensure you’re fully aware of your state’s laws.

We buy houses, Oshkosh helps homeowners who are trying to sell quickly. We are a local cash home-buying company that offers cash for houses in Oshkosh. So if you need to sell a house fast in Appleton, we are local cash home buyers who are serious about buying your home.

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