Real Estate and Divorce: When you Just Can’t Agree


One of the most major assets that a married couple can share is a home that they own. Divorce is already a tough enough situation, but it can be made even more complicated when the two parties involved don’t agree on how to handle their shared real estate. During a difficult time such as this, emotions run high and other factors can easily come into play that makes such decisions difficult to make, much less agree upon. But if both are aware of the options available to them, they may be able to reach an amicable agreement in time.

So what options do you have when it comes to settling the matter of the home you own with your soon-to be ex-spouse?

1). Keep the house.

This can certainly complicate things in its own way, but some divorcing couples decide to keep the home they own-at least until there is an improvement in the housing market that will make it easier or better to sell. A rocky housing market is a pretty good reason not to put the house up for sale immediately, and neither of the two parties necessarily has to live within the house. You may choose to rent it out to a tenant if neither spouse chooses to remain living there. There are two complications that should be kept in mind when and if you and your former spouse make such a decision:

  • Holding onto the mortgage for the house you bought when you were married can make it tough to get a mortgage on another home.
  • Continuing to share ownership of the house keeps the divorcing couple financially intertwined until it is sold to somebody else.

2). Sell the house.

This is probably the most common course of action that divorcing couples take when it comes to their shared property. Typically, they sell the house and then split the proceeds from the sale. This sounds like a pretty amiable solution because both parties get a payday in the end, but a lot can come up during the arrangement of a house’s sale.

Disagreements about how to sell the house and who to sell it to are common in these arrangements. One party might want to hire a real estate agent while the other wishes to sell by owner. Someone might want to sell the property to family for a reduced price, or they might not agree on the sale price for the house at all. The employment of a real estate lawyer can help divorcing couples to reach an agreement on these matters and help their clients to make the most prudent financial move possible for their situation.

3). Buy out a share of the home.

If one party is intent on keeping the property, they can try to buy their former spouse’s portion of it. For example, if a home is worth $100,000 and one party wants to keep it in their name, they may pay their ex the $50,000 that would constitute their half.

In many cases, a judge will agree with whatever decision the two parties have made together, as long as it doesn’t seem particularly one-sided. Such agreements can be made together in a peaceful manner or constructed with the assistance of mediators and lawyers.

If a decision is not made between the two parties, either with or without the involvement of their lawyers, then it will be up to the court to decide the best course of action. A judge will analyze all of the information available and might even bring in the professional opinion of an appraiser whom can help inform their decision.

Ultimately, it is in both parties’ best interests to come to an agreement before a judge is ever given that responsibility. If you and your former spouse are struggling to reach any type of agreement about the future of your shared real estate, the help of a team of expert Ottawa family lawyers can truly move the process along in a way that benefits everyone as much as possible.

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