February 11, 2016 By Paul Wallin

Going through the stress of a divorce can be incredibly difficult. This can be made more difficult if you and your spouse decide to sell your house and divide the equity.

Following these five tips can make selling your home during your divorce an easier process for you and your spouse. Keep in mind, though, that these are issues that will require consulting or hiring an experienced divorce attorney who can make sure you end up leaving the divorce with your fair share of the community assets.

Determine Who Owns the House

California divorce courts operate with a presumption that property acquired during a marriage is considered “community property.”1

Cases where the home was purchased after getting married where both spouses are on the title or mortgage are typically the easiest to deal with. Equity in the home is split 50-50 in these cases.

Sometimes the title to the house is in one spouse’s name or the property was purchased by a single party before getting married. This creates a presumption that the house is separate property belonging to one spouse and not the other.2 However, if the other spouse contributed money from his or her earnings to pay the mortgage at any time during the marriage, or can show that the house was intended to belong to both spouses; this can show that both spouses have an “interest” in the house.

While determining who owns the property could be messy, it is the first step to selling and ultimately dividing the asset you and your spouse.

Decide Whether to Sell or Buy Out

If both of you are interested in selling the house and walking away, then the community property asset rules make it fairly easy to sell the home and divide it. However, one spouse may wish to “buy out” the other spouse and remain the owner of the home.

This process includes determining the value of the home, often with the help of an appraiser, and then one spouse paying the other for their “share” of the property.3 You must consider several factors when determining a buy-out price. Separate property contributions made during the joint ownership of the home and potential tax implications can make a buy-out more complicated than it first appears.

Find a Realtor

Finding a realtor that can do most of the heavy lifting can alleviate the stress of selling the home, and help prevent any potential arguments between you and your spouse.4 Find a realtor that both of you trust or use your lawyer to help find a realtor acceptable to both parties.


So you’ve made it through the sale; now what? Typically, the escrow company will distribute the money after paying off any obligations. The courts will usually determine each spouse’s interest in the home, taking into consideration several factors, including whether any payments on the home were made after separating but before divorcing and finalizing the sale.5

Keep in mind that any debts that result from selling the home will also be split between you and your spouse. This is more typical in short sale situations where the profits from the sale are less than the debts owed.6

Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Divorce cases involve many complex issues, which is why you need an attorney who can help you navigate the legal process. If you are seeking a divorce, you should consult with one of our experienced family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. Our divorce attorneys have been fighting for over 30 years to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes in their cases.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help no matter your location.

Call us at (888) 749-7428 for free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1 http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/marriage-property-ownership-who-owns-what-29841.html href=”#ref1″>↩
2 http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/marital-property-division/who-gets-house-california-divorce.html href=”#ref2″>↩
3 http://www.divorcenet.com/states/california/ca_art49 href=”#ref3″>↩
4 http://www.realtytoday.com/articles/47988/20151102/5-home-selling-tips-during-a-divorce.html href=”#ref4″>↩
5 http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/marital-property-division/who-gets-house-california-divorce.html href=”#ref5″>↩
6 http://homeguides.sfgate.com/am-forced-sell-house-after-divorce-48845.html href=”#ref6″>↩

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