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Navigating A Court-ordered House Sale In California Divorce Proceedings

Published on May 10, 2023

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Hire a real estate agent to list, market, and sell the property. Cooperate throughout the process. Sign a contract and close the sale.

court ordered sale

Knowing that you have other options if your home is the main sticking point in a divorce may be helpful. For example, selling before the end of the divorce is the best way to resolve the issue and to preserve tax benefits – before the divorce heats up.

A real estate investor will help you streamline the process if your divorce is pending.

Finally, if remaining in your home until your children move out is a priority, one of you can buy the other out – or you can continue owning the home together in the interim.    

Guide for selling a house after divorce in California

You can sell your house during a divorce, but family law in California is clear, and it requires you to obtain the court’s permission before selling your home.

court order sale of house

The court will likely approve a sale if you and your spouse completely agree. If your home is in danger of foreclosure, the court may approve a sale before the divorce decree. You should exercise caution if you have to sell your house during divorce proceedings. 

Can I sell a house after a divorce?

Divorce

Yes, you can sell your house during a divorce, but keep California’s divorce laws in mind as you proceed. Selling the house in a divorce is guided by California’s laws related to the division of community property. Generally, the marital home is considered community property – or a marital asset – which, in California, must be divided evenly between the two spouses in the event of divorce. 

It is important to follow the letter of the law when selling a house during a divorce. If you and your spouse are willing to enter a written and signed agreement about the sale and are committed to splitting the proceeds evenly between the two of you, you can sell your house while you’re divorcing.

Working closely with your family law attorney is important in selling your house. This will ensure you stay within the legal parameters. 

Can I sell my home in a divorce case?

You can attempt to force the sale of your home in a divorce, but – because your divorcing spouse is not on board – you will need to take the matter up in court prior to putting the house on the market. When selling a home during a California divorce, working with an attorney to determine the best way forward is a good idea.  

Do you need to sell your home in a divorce case?

Sometimes we are asked, “can I be forced to sell my house in a divorce?”, and the answer is yes, under highly specific circumstances, you can. The court will likely, however, only be moved to force a sell in relation to financial reasons, such as for covering divorce-related legal fees, but generally, you can’t be forced to sell your house in a California divorce unless your spouse obtains a court order that compels you to do so.

Property

If your home is at risk of foreclosure, a court order may be issued to force you to sell. It’s important to know, however, that California courts need a compelling reason for taking drastic action such as this. 

Should we sell the house before or after the divorce?

Should the house be sold before or after a separation? It is complicated because of several factors. Your family home almost certainly belongs to both of you, which means neither can sell it before or during a divorce unless the other spouse wants the same thing – or the court intervenes.

If you are considering whether to sell your house first or divorce first, it’s important to carefully consider your options and make the right choice for you and your children moving forward.

Selling property before the divorce settlement

The best way to sell a house is before the divorce. But this will require teamwork from you and your spouse. This may be lacking in the months leading up to a divorce.

Selling property during separation or before divorce still requires cooperation from both of you, but if you sell the house at some point anyway, doing so at this juncture comes with significant advantages. 

Marriage

California has strict property tax laws, which include capital gains tax. If you sell your home before divorce, the cap for not paying capital gains tax on any profit made is twice what it would be if you waited to sell the house on your own post-divorce – when the cap will be set for a single person rather than for a married couple.

You must also satisfy residence requirements to avoid capital gain tax. This includes that your home must have served as your primary residence for at least two consecutive years.

Selling your home before a divorce is advantageous for tax purposes and can also help you get a fair value. As soon as you file for divorce, it becomes public information. Opportunistic buyers are aware that divorce can signal a need for a quick sale, which could affect the value of your home.

Selling your family home can hurt your emotional state, especially if you're on the fence. There is also the matter of where you and your children will live while your divorce is pending, which can leave you feeling adrift just when you embark on one of life’s most difficult transitions.  

Selling a house after divorce

Selling the house during divorce may not be the best way to go, but sometimes, it’s necessary. Selling the house during divorce proceedings may be necessary to avoid foreclosure or to generate cash flow to pay for bills or legal costs while your divorce progresses.

Court

On the bright side, selling at this stage ensures that your tax exposure is more limited than it would be if you were single – as long as you qualify for residency requirements.

Divorce filings are public information and can affect the value of a home. Buyers know that selling a house during a divorce is usually motivated by financial needs, so their offers may reflect this.

It can’t be overemphasized that divorce comes with a heavy emotional burden, which can be difficult enough to endure without the added stress of selling your family home simultaneously. We tend to associate our homes with comfort and security, so leaving them in the middle of a storm is more difficult than we anticipated.

Finally, the sale of a house during a divorce requires you and your spouse to agree on the matter and ask the court for permission to proceed. Divorcing couples often have difficulty finding common ground in almost every area. This can make selling a home during divorce even more difficult.  

Selling a house after divorce

The benefits of selling the home after divorce are numerous. Selling the house becomes your decision if the court has deemed it separate property during the divorce. You won’t need to formulate a plan with your ex, and you can proceed on your own terms.

Lawyer

For example, if you want to keep the house as your family home – in an effort not to uproot your children at this difficult juncture in their lives – it’s your right to do so as long as you can handle the mortgage. 

If you are ordered by the court to sell your home after the divorce to divide proceeds, it’s a different matter. You’ll need to proceed with the house sale in unison with your ex, and the capital gains tax advantage continues to apply – the cap before capital gains taxes are owed is double what it would be if you sold the house on your own. 

How to Sell a House During a Divorce in California

If you are going through a divorce and need to sell your property, options are available. You can simplify the process if you and the divorcing partner are on board. companies that buy homes for cash in Southern California.

Mortgage loan

Another option is for one person to sell their interest in the property to the other. Or, the other party can take another marital asset to offset the community equity interest. Both parties could continue owning the house together, while one parent lives with the children. You can make the right decision by better understanding your options.

1. Sell to real estate Investors 

An excellent option if you need to sell your house during divorce is selling to cash home buyers in Southern California who make the process as painless as possible by eliminating the need for all the following:

  • Making repairs
  • Selling your house? Spruce up the property.
  • Hiring an appraiser to determine the value of  the house
  • Work with a Real Estate Agent 
  • While you are living in your home, it is important to stage the house for potential buyers and keep it looking good.
  • Schedule, prepare, and vacate your home before open houses or viewings
  • You and your spouse can agree in accepting an offer. 
  • Waiting on the buyer’s financing

2. California divorce house buyout by the spouse

If you and your spouse don’t want to sell the property, one spouse can come up with a buyout for the other’s equity in the home.

For example, if your goal is to stay in the house and you can’t afford to buy your spouse out directly, you may be able to buy out them out with a community property other than your home – if your estate is large enough.

Community property

Who gets the house in a divorce in California depends upon a large range of factors, including whether or not you have a prenup, the divorce agreement you create, the matter of who wants the house, the matter of who wants to stay in the home, and beyond.

The family court can make these decisions, or the divorced couple themselves. If you are awarded the house in a divorce trial, it is up to the other spouse whether they want to sell the house.

3. Continue to own the home jointly

Many couples with children under 18 choose to continue co-owning the home. This works well if one of the spouses wants to continue living in the house while the children are still at home, which can help make the divorce and it’s aftermath less jarring for them.

After buying a new home, one spouse might live there full-time and the other may have visitation. Some parents allow their kids to live at home, while both parents move in and out, a practice known as nesting.

When the time comes and the home is sold, you’ll still be able – as co-owners – to take advantage of the higher capital gains tax limit – but only if both of you satisfy the ownership and use requirements.   

How does a court-ordered sale of a house in divorce in California affect matters?

If selling your house during a divorce becomes a court order, you’ll need to sell the home quickly, which can be a tall order amid a divorce. 

Need help to sell a home during a divorce in California

SoCal HomeBuyers understands that selling a home in a divorce situation can be difficult. We offer a simple purchase process to help you put this difficult situation behind you, without the time, money, and hassle of working with an agent. We can help you with four simple steps.

  1. Await our prompt response to discuss your property in greater detail and schedule a one-time inspection that allows us to offer the highest amount possible.
  2. The inspection was conducted, our in-house inspector will quote you a fair cash offer, and if you’re on board, you can consider your home sold!
  3. Choose your closing date will take care of the rest. You can pay by check or money order. It simply doesn’t get any easier.

FAQs

How long can you sell your house after a divorce?

The situation will determine how long it takes to sell your house after a divorce. If the sale is court-ordered, you’ll need to sell in accordance with the specifics laid out by the court. If not, you are free to sell according to your priorities.

Do I need to sell my home in a divorce case?

You don’t necessarily have to sell your house in a divorce – unless the court orders you to. You may have to sell your house to pay for expenses or avoid foreclosure. Barring a court order, you can’t be compelled to sell your home.

What happens to a seller divorcing and being forced to sell his home?

If you’re required to sell your home, you’ll likely need to do so fairly quickly, which makes selling to a real estate investor like SoCal Home Buyers a solid plan. First, call us and schedule an inspection with our in-house expert.

Can one spouse sell a property owned by the community without the approval of their partner(s)?

The community property belongs to both spouses in equal measure. Neither spouse can sell the community property without their written consent. If you’re going through a divorce, you’ll also need the court’s approval before proceeding with a sale of community property, such as a house.

Are there any guidelines for stopping a spouse from selling a property without your approval?

Even if your home is in your spouse’s name alone, it is certainly community property, which means you must agree to its sale. As such, you must address that your spouse is attempting to sell the house with the divorce court.

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