Your Guide to Selling a House After a Divorce


Divorce and moving house are two of life’s biggest upheavals so when a break-up means selling the property you have shared, it is a double whammy.  

Deciding how to divide assets when a long-term relationship ends, can be extremely difficult, no matter how amicable the split. In this blog post, we look at how to sell a house after a separation or divorce and answer all the questions you may have about the process.

Selling your home before a divorce settlement

It is easy to feel overwhelmed during those early weeks of a break-up. Working out where you are going to live, who will stay in the house, and how your mortgage will keep being paid will likely keep those newly separated awake at night.

While couples must wait 12 months before applying for a divorce, nothing stops commencing a property settlement earlier.

This means you can sell your house during separation and take the first steps towards building a new life before officially being divorced.

Finances need to be consolidated, so you have a clear picture of your assets and liabilities.

As your home is likely the most valuable item, it is essential to know it is worth.

The first step is getting a property appraisal through your local LJ Hooker agent. This will accurately assess what your home will fetch in the current market and will include recent results from comparative properties in your suburb.

Managing the stress ahead

Selling the family home is never easy, particularly if it is a place that you imagined never leaving. Surround yourself with the right people who can support you through the weeks and months ahead.

You also need reliable professionals who are empathetic to your situation and can assist in helping you to create a brighter future. A family lawyer will negotiate a property settlement and maintenance.

Choosing the right real estate agent is essential in minimising the stressful side of selling your home. They streamline the process, helping to sell the home more quickly and efficiently, which is key when looking to move on with your life.

Real estate agents are experienced in dealing with people selling property due to a relationship breakdown. They are sensitive to what is going on in your private life and can communicate with both parties equally. It is important to keep communication open and everyone updated.

While you may feel like being alone, be sure to turn to friends and family who can lift your spirits during this emotional time. Your support network will also likely want to help in the moving process. So, if there are any offers to pack removalist boxes, mind the children or prepare a meal, don’t turn them down.

Can I be forced to sell my house in a divorce?

While you and your former partner may be able to work out a settlement together, it is a good idea to seek legal advice on what happens to shared property once your finances are in order.

Everything, whether in both names or not, are put together in an 'asset pool' and split between both parties to an agreed amount. This includes inheritances, jewellery, vehicles, superannuation, insurance policies, cash, cars, household contents, investments, and your home.

It also includes all debts, even those incurred while being separated, so it is best to take action sooner rather than later. Even if you have earned little or no money during the relationship, you are still entitled to a share of some of the property.

Mediation is a useful tool to come up with alternatives when discussions have hit a stonewall. For instance, one partner may wish to delay selling the home if their child is sitting their HSC. So, if the other party is agreeable, they could decide to wait until the end of the school year to list it on the market. 

How do I keep my home in a divorce?

The good news is house prices have been rising exponentially in the past few years, so your property will likely be worth much more than your mortgage.

The not-so-good news is that if you want to remain in your home, then you will need to refinance and buy out your partner. This decision is influenced by where you live and also your income.

Refinancing is popular in affordable parts of Australia where it might be possible to service a new loan on a single income. It is less likely to be an option in Sydney and Melbourne, where the median house price is higher than anywhere else. The reality for most people is there is no alternative but to go to market.

Remember, selling your home will fund the next stage of your life and the chance for a fresh start. 

How to sell a house when one partner refuses?

Getting a divorce is costly, time-consuming and stressful, but it doesn’t need to be if both partners can set aside their differences and work together. This isn't always possible.

During separation, both parties are legally allowed to live in the family home, although usually, one person will leave. This has no bearing on your future entitlements.

If your partner later refuses to move out to allow the house to be sold, a court order is required. This is never the first option but sometimes the only way forward.

In this instance, the Family Court of Australia will decide what will happen with the home as part of the property settlement. They will look at what was contributed financially by each party as well as non-financial contributions, such as looking after children. Future requirements such as the capacity to earn, age, and health will also be factored into the decision.

When partners can cooperate, even through their lawyers, it allows them to have an input into how their assets will be divided without going to court.

Property settlements must be made within 12 months of divorce being finalised and within two years if you have been in a de facto relationship.

What are some other challenges when selling due to a divorce?

Even when both parties agree to sell the property, going to market is not always smooth sailing. Settling on a sales price can be tricky, especially if the other party is resistant to listing or struggling to come to terms with the end of the relationship. Be guided by the comparative sales result provided at your appraisal.

Your LJ Hooker agent will also know the right pricing strategy to attract potential buyers while ensuring you and your former partner receive a fair value for the property. They will also advise on the best way to sell your property depending on your situation.

Remember a reserve price must be set before an auction. If selling through a private treaty, determine the lowest price that you and your partner are willing to accept. It is important to put differences aside and work together for a common goal. This also includes setting a budget for staging and any pre-sale repairs.

Preparing yourself emotionally to leave your house after a divorce

Even in the best of times, selling the family home is an emotionally charged event. Whether you’ve been blind-sided by a breakup or the split has been mutual, it carries with it a sense of loss and a period of grieving.

Packing away personal items such as photographs and decluttering can be helpful to detach yourself from your home. While you may still feel a special connection to the property, put feelings aside and focus on your future happiness.

It is important to be informed financially to make proper decisions, and this starts with having your home appraised. This will give you knowledge about your property’s true value and will help you plan the next chapter of your life.


DISCLAIMER - The information provided is for guidance and informational purposes only and does not replace independent business, legal and financial advice which we strongly recommend. Whilst the information is considered true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information provided. LJ Hooker will not accept responsibility or liability for any reliance on the blog information, including but not limited to, the accuracy, currency or completeness of any information or links. 


More interesting resources you might like...