Can spouse force sale of home?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can spouse force sale of home?

A friend if going through a divorce, no kids. His name is on the loan but they have had separate accounts, separate taxes, always. He initially signed the divorce papers saying he wasn’t fighting for house but now that court date is set, he says that he will fight to get his name removed from loan. She does not have good enough credit to refinance or take out a loan for half the value. She has been one to pay for mortgage and everything to do with repairs. Can he force her to sell it and leave her without a home for her and her kids from previous marriage? I see her stress and it breaks my heart.

Asked on March 16, 2018 under Family Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If there are non-spouse co-owners, one can bring a legal action (an action "for partition") to force the sale of the home if the two owners cannot agree as to what to do with the property.
However, a spouse has rights which are separate from and in addition to her rights as a property owner. Since there is already a divorce case going on, neither one can unilaterally sell or otherwise transfer the house without the approval of the family court. The court will, in the context of the divorce, decide what to do with the house: it could give the house to him, but give her more of their other property or assets to compensate; give the house to her, but then give him more of the other money or assets; state that she can live in the house for some period of time (e.g. until any minor children are grown), while deciding how much each of the two of them will pay to maintain the house (e.g mortgage, taxes) in the meantime (it could require her to pay some or all of the house's costs, she is living there; or make him pay some or all of the costs as part of any support he is paying her)--after which the home will be sold and the profit shared between them in some court-determined ratio; or order the prompt sale of the house and the distribution of of the proceeds or profits to the two of them; etc. The court has a wide array of options, and will decide what to do with the house as art of the divorce.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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