Your Guide to Selling a House After a Divorce


It is one of life’s biggest upheavals, but it is a stressful double whammy when divorce or separation means having to sell the family home you share.

Deciding how to divide money and property 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 divorce and answer all the questions you may have.

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 just how your mortgage will keep being paid is likely to keep those newly separated awake at night.

While couples must wait for 12 months before applying for a divorce, there is nothing stopping commencing a property settlement.

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 to be the most valuable item, it is essential to know its 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.

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

Just how your property is shared depends on your family situation and circumstances. While you may be able to work it out together, it is a good idea to seek legal advice once your finances are in order.

All assets, 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 course of 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. 

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.mThe 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 family 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.

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 of the difficulties 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.

Your LJ Hooker agent will provide recent results from comparative properties in your suburb.

It is important that the reserve price is set before an auction. If selling through a private treaty, determine what the lowest price that you will accept is. Decide together on a budget for staging and any pre-sale repairs.

Our agents are sensitive to what is going on in your private life and are able to communicate with both parties equally. 

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 in order 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...