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Can I Legally Force My Ex to Sell Our Property?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 25 Apr 2018 |
 
Divorce Marital Home Solicitor Joint

Q.

Please can you let me know whether I can legally force my husband to sell our property, he has been very difficult and unco-operative. He is not paying enough of the mortgage which it has now gone into arrears. We have no children under the age of 23.

(B.G, 21 April 2009)

A.

I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties with your husband. This is obviously not a situation that should be allowed to continue because sooner or later the lender will start to ask questions about the arrears.

Seek Legal Advice

The answer to your question depends on numerous factors but I would advise you to see a solicitor as early as possible. The best way to do this in the first instance is to ask the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for a list of local solicitors who will be able to give you half an hours worth of free legal advice.

Separation/Divorce

I am unable to determine from your question as to whether you and your husband are still together and living in the same house. If you are separated it also may be sensible to seek advice from your lawyer about what would happen in the event that you divorced your husband (I assume you aren’t already divorced) and the way in which your shared assets and your home would be split.

If your relationship has broken down, and both of you own your home as ‘joint tenants’ the first thing you would need to do is sever the tenancy to make you ‘tenants in common.’ Your solicitor will be better placed to advise you on this.

Forcing the Sale

What I can tell you is that if you own your house jointly in a ‘trust for sale’ you may be able to force the sale of the property. This is done by applying for a court order that would in effect allow for the property to be sold, and would provide a timescale within which it should be sold.

What You Should Do

At this stage, you should make a note of the way in which your husband is being un-cooperative, and in as much detail as possible what he has done to get you into this situation. This will be very useful for your solicitor in the event that you do need to apply for a court order.

I really think it’s best that you go and seek legal advice straight away. Good luck.

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Panties - Your Question:
I still jointly own the ex marital home and the divorce went through some time ago now. The DWP are paying the joint mortgage as she doesnt work. She has 3 children and 1 is my daughter who's 11 now. There are conditions as to when the house can be sold-* She co-habbits * She marries again * She dies * My daughter leaves full time education * My daughter doesnt live there anymore * My daughter turns 18, so 7 years timeTo buy the house I sold my own home and put the profit from it into the jointly owned home as a deposit. Due to ill health and my disability I am unable to work myself. I am on ESA, DLA and full Housing Benefit. I have enough money coming in by way of my benefits and Ive been thinking about any profit to come out of sale of the house in 7 years time.I would like my share which is about 27% of the profit to go directly to my daughter and not myself. Is this something I can get arrange? Any lump sum of money is going to cause me issues with my benrfits and I am not able to handle the stress of change.

Our Response:
Some benefits are means-tested.In other words, the amount of income and capital you have can affect your eligibility. Means-tested benefits are available to people who can demonstrate that their income and capital are below a certain level. You can see what means-tested benefits which may be affected via the Turn2Us link here.
DivorceResource - 26-Apr-18 @ 11:20 AM
I still jointly own the ex marital home and the divorce went through some time ago now. The DWP are paying the joint mortgage as she doesnt work. She has 3 children and 1 is my daughter who's 11 now. There are conditions as to when the house can be sold- * She co-habbits * She marries again * She dies * My daughter leaves full time education * My daughter doesnt live there anymore * My daughter turns 18, so 7 years time To buy the house I sold my own home and put the profit from it into the jointly owned home as a deposit. Due to ill health and my disability I am unable to work myself. I am on ESA, DLA and full Housing Benefit. I have enough money coming in by way of my benefits and Ive been thinking about any profit to come out of sale of the house in 7 years time. I would like my share which is about 27% of the profit to go directly to my daughter and not myself. Is this something I can get arrange? Any lump sum of money is going to cause me issues with my benrfits and I am not able to handle the stress of change.
Panties - 25-Apr-18 @ 7:29 AM
Richie rich - Your Question:
My partner of 18 years move out of the family home as her excuse was we have drifted apart.She has moved in with her friend who only has a two bedroom flat and left me with our three children.We are in the middle of court procedures as to custody of the kids. Im going for full custody and she wants 50/50 custody but she has nowhere suitable to live with the children at the moment.Can she make me sell the house for her share of the capital so that she can get her own place taking in mind the kids live with me at the moment.

Our Response:
If the children are currently living with you, then you will be considered the primary carer (especially if you are the person in receipt of child benefit). In which case, it is possible you would be allowed to remain in the house. However, much depends upon the individual situation and who is considered the primary carer on a general day-to-day basis. If you both normally share the care of the children, the court will take this into consideration and try to continue this arrangement. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. You can see more about child arrangement orders via the link here . The CAB link here may also be useful.
DivorceResource - 20-Apr-18 @ 9:48 AM
My partner of 18 years move out of the family home as her excuse was we have drifted apart.She has moved in with her friend who only has a two bedroom flat and left me with our three children. We are in the middle of court procedures as to custody of the kids. Im going for full custody and she wants 50/50 custody but she has nowhere suitable to live with the children at the moment. Can she make me sell the house for her share of the capital so that she can get her own place taking in mind the kids live with me at the moment.
Richie rich - 19-Apr-18 @ 2:39 PM
Hjo - Your Question:
I went to mediation with my ex. It was ordered that I list the house for sale. He only wants me to sell out of spite. Both our daughters were born and raised here and he was angry that I would not take him back after his cheating. The mediator also said I could try and buy him out. We agreed on a price. I listed the house as required. I was just lucky enough to get a loan to be able to buy him out of his share. Now he's not answering his lawyers calls to fill out the paper work and get his money. Can he refuse to accept the buyout?

Our Response:
Your ex can refuse to continue with the agreement if he chooses. If you wish to pursue the matter, then you would have the option to apply to court.
DivorceResource - 19-Apr-18 @ 11:28 AM
I went to mediation with my ex. It was ordered that I list the house for sale. He only wants me to sell out of spite. Both our daughters were born and raised here and he was angry that I would not take him back after his cheating.The mediator also said I could try and buy him out. We agreed on a price. I listed the house as required. I was just lucky enough to get a loan to be able to buy him out of his share. Now he's not answering his lawyers calls to fill out the paper work and get his money. Can he refuse to accept the buyout?
Hjo - 18-Apr-18 @ 12:16 AM
isa - Your Question:
HiMe and my husband took out mortgage six month ago. I want to leave and divorce. He is not having it. He says he cannot afford to pay mortgage on his own but when I say I will stay in the house and sell it he does not want to sell. I do not want to live in the same house with him but I am worried that if the mortgage is not paid, it will go in arrears and the house will be re-possessed. Of course I do not want that, but feel like I am being pressurized to stay. We have no children. I would like to understand what are my options and what could I do in this situation.

Our Response:
You obviously need to have the conversation again. If your husband does not wish to sell, your only option would be to apply to court, which will cost you both financially in legal fees and court costs. It is obviously better to come to a mutual agreement. So, trying to push for this, or mediation may help whilst at the same time warning that court would be an option too, unless he can buy you out, as you wish to sell and will push to sell. On the other hand, it might be wise to stay in the property until the matter is resolved, as once you move out your husband could become even more awkward. At least you have more control regarding making the house ready for sale and showing around viewers whilst living in the house. One of the problems that can occur is that a reluctant spouse agrees to selling in principle, but can consciously or subconsciously put off potential buyers when conducting the sale.
DivorceResource - 17-Apr-18 @ 12:22 PM
Hi Me and my husband took out mortgage six month ago. I want to leave and divorce. He is not having it. He says he cannot afford to pay mortgage on his own but when I say I will stay in the house and sell it he does not want to sell. I do not want to live in the same house with him but I am worried that if the mortgage is not paid, it will go in arrears and the house will be re-possessed. Of course I do not want that, but feel like I am being pressurized to stay. We have no children. I would like to understand what are my options and what could I do in this situation.
isa - 16-Apr-18 @ 7:41 PM
@Dippy - yes. He's not obligated to pay for repairs, just as any home owner is not obligated to pay for repairs that they don't want or cannot afford to do.
DDF - 13-Apr-18 @ 2:06 PM
My husband and I separated two years ago and are now divorced.The marital home has been in the market since that time but to date has not sold.We have a consent order which states they my ex must pay the first and second charges over the property together with the house insurance.I must state that the reason he pays my half of the mortgage is because the second charge over the property is in his sole name and will be repaid directly from the sale proceeds of the house.My ex has a number of debts - which he ran up without my knowledge - and so it was decided that I would be given a fixed sum from the equity of the house rather than a percentage to make distribution fair.We are now at a point whereby the house needed repairs not ordinarily covered by the home insurance and my ex is refusing to pay half the repairs costs.As the house was already in the market when we split neither of us put anything in the consent order as to what to do regarding property repairs.Can he refuse to pay?
Dippy - 10-Apr-18 @ 10:35 AM
Cynthia - Your Question:
My niece and her partner have split up. They own a house that they pay mortgage on. They have a two year old boy too. Her ex has moved out and is forcing her to sell the house but she also put all the deposit down on the house and that just aboutnis covered by the equity in the house now. Firstly can he force her to move out and sell when they have the child? Secondly how can she get her deposit back before the equity is (if anything) is split if she is forced to sell and leave? She has a new boyfriend but he doesn’t live with her and she can prove he paid the mortgage but she paid all the other bills like gas, electric, council tax etc

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here, which will tell you all you need to know. If your niece put down the deposit, then your niece should be able to claim back the deposit from the equity, if she and her ex chooses to sell. If they cannot agree between them, then mediation may be an option for her to consider.
DivorceResource - 9-Apr-18 @ 11:39 AM
My niece and her partner have split up. They own a house that they pay mortgage on. They have a two year old boy too. Her ex has moved out and is forcing her to sell the house but she also put all the deposit down on the house and that just aboutnis covered by the equity in the house now. Firstly can he force her to move out and sell when they have the child? Secondly how can she get her deposit back before the equity is (if anything) is split if she is forced to sell and leave? She has a new boyfriend but he doesn’t live with her and she can prove he paid the mortgage but she paid all the other bills like gas, electric, council tax etc
Cynthia - 8-Apr-18 @ 3:51 PM
Dave - Your Question:
Hi, my wife has left and moved into rented accommodation after 15 years of marriage - we own our house via mortgage and also have a mortgaged flat that is rented. We have a 9 year old son and have agreed to separate. She wants me to sell our house but by doing so we would both end up in either rented property or much smaller property, can she legally force me to sell as currently I pay the mortgage and all associated billls. Our son lives between both properties and would like to keep him in the family home

Our Response:
Mediation may be the way forward here to discuss what should happen with the properties. You can either agree between you both, or risk that the matter may have to go to court. If the matter goes to court, then this will cost. The court will consider the needs of your child first and then the needs of both parents. Regardless of whether you pay the mortage, the property is still considered jointly owned as you are married.
DivorceResource - 6-Apr-18 @ 3:18 PM
Lisa1234 - Your Question:
Hi there, we had a final hearing in March 2018, had a order for sale of house. What happens if husband still won’t sell house?, at final hearing proceedings couldn’t take place as husband did not have an interpreter. How long till next hearing?, and within how long will judge give husband to sell?, Kind Regards

Our Response:
The important thing (if your husband is ordered to sell) is to ensure a time limit is put on this as you would be surprised at the lengths some joint-owners will go to in order to avoid selling i.e putting off prospective buyers etc. We can't anticipate/predict what the court will decide, or say when your next hearing will be.
DivorceResource - 6-Apr-18 @ 11:59 AM
Hi there, we had a final hearing in March 2018, had a order for sale of house. What happens if husband still won’t sell house?, at final hearing proceedings couldn’t take place as husband did not have an interpreter. How long till next hearing?, and within how long will judge give husband to sell?, Kind Regards
Lisa1234 - 5-Apr-18 @ 7:37 PM
Easy- Your Question:
My wife and her parents bought a house together 12 years ago. ( father in law put down deposit) my wife and I got a joint mortgage. we divorced 4 years ago , and my son is 25 now , I have never contemplated selling house even tho I have been so low and really struggled. now I have told my wife it’s time to sell she has said I can’t sell house as I haven’t paid mortgage since we separated. The divorce was done via court without us present and the house never was involved. obviously if house is sold her parents will get back there deposit. any idea where I stand please ? Regards Ian

Our Response:
If your ex has paid the mortgage since you separated, then this will lessen your claim. Much depends how much equity is in the house and whether it is worth challenging this in court. You would have to seek legal advice regarding this matter, as sometimes the legal costs and court fees can outweigh any possible financial gain.
DivorceResource - 3-Apr-18 @ 11:51 AM
My wife and her parents bought a house together 12 years ago .. ( father in law put down deposit) my wife and I got a joint mortgage.. we divorced 4 years ago , and my son is 25 now , I have never contemplated selling house even tho I have been so low and really struggled.. now I have told my wife it’s time to sell she has said I can’t sell house as I haven’t paid mortgage since we separated . The divorce was done via court without us present and the house never was involved .. obviously if house is sold her parents will get back there deposit.. any idea where I stand please ? Regards Ian
Easy - 2-Apr-18 @ 4:24 PM
Hi, my wife has left and moved into rented accommodation after 15 years of marriage - we own our house via mortgage and also have a mortgaged flat that is rented. We have a 9 year old son and have agreed to separate. She wants me to sell our house but by doing so we would both end up in either rented property or much smaller property, can she legally force me to sell as currently I pay the mortgage and all associated billls. Our son lives between both properties and would like to keep him in the family home
Dave - 30-Mar-18 @ 10:06 AM
Smwood - Your Question:
I divorced my husband back in 2012 and he got to keep the house and our children. In our settlement he was allowed to keep the house but when our youngest son turned 18 (19 if in full time education) then I would be entitled to half the equity) My youngest son has now since moved out from his fathers and resides with me but my ex-husband still won’t sell the house. I agreed that I would not touch his private pension or request a spousal maintenance in exchange for half the equity, so I ended up living on benefits in a private rent.

Our Response:
If there was a court order specifying your husband has to sell the house, then you would have to refer the matter back to court if he refuses. If you do refer the matter back to court, you can request the court puts a time limit on the sale of the property. In some instances, ex's will do all they can to put potential buyers off and/or stall the sale in order to prevent the move from taking place.
DivorceResource - 27-Mar-18 @ 10:17 AM
I divorced my husband back in 2012 and he got to keep the house and our children. In our settlement he was allowed to keep the house but when our youngest son turned 18 (19 if in full time education) then I would be entitled to half the equity) My youngest son has now since moved out from his fathers and resides with me but my ex-husband still won’t sell the house. I agreed that I would not touch his private pension or request a spousal maintenance in exchange for half the equity, so I ended up living on benefits in a private rent.
Smwood - 26-Mar-18 @ 9:57 AM
My husband and I own our house together and we have his son (2) and my daughter (11) here. He’s a drug addict and every week I find remnants of coke dropped on the floor only specks but weekly. He’s admitted he’s an addict and promised to get help, cancelling and changing his counselling session already before started. I have done this for 2-3 years and I want him out, he’s abusive and a bully to me in front of my children. Can I get him removed as he’s providing an unsafe environment for the kids and potentially impacting them?
Sam - 20-Mar-18 @ 3:22 PM
Jules - Your Question:
Hi my ex gifted all equity in house to me in divorce which was done legally. now 18 months later he’s asking me to sell and give him half the profit. House and mortgage is in my name solely. I have been informed he has accumulated massive debts. Can he force me to sell my youngest child is 15

Our Response:
If the divorce and financial settlement has been finalised then he cannot request you give this money back. He cannot force you to sell.
DivorceResource - 20-Mar-18 @ 3:12 PM
Hi my ex gifted all equity in house to me in divorce which was done legally. now 18 months later he’s asking me to sell and give him half the profit. House and mortgage is in my name solely. I have been informed he has accumulated massive debts. Can he force me to sell my youngest child is 15
Jules - 20-Mar-18 @ 8:11 AM
Missmoo - Your Question:
Hi, my husband left me and our 10 year old daughter 18 months ago for another woman after being married for over 25 years. He now is requesting the sale of the family home. Our daughter does not want this to hapoen and has begged me to not let us move. I can not get a mortgage as he failed to pay half the bills and DDs bounced. I paid off the arrears and transferred them into my own account to ensure they were paid. I can afford the mortgage but he still says he wants it sold. He only pays half the mortgage and gives me £50 per week. His salary is double mine. In his solicitors letter he fails to state he lives with his girlfriend and can not afford to pay anymore and needs the money out of the house. He also wants me to pay for all sake costs

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely a court would force you to sell if you can prove you can afford to live there. A court will always decide on what it thinks is in the best interests of your child and will usually refrain from ruling for any big changes. If your ex's solicitor is advising him he has a case, then you may wish to seek professional legal advice yourself.
DivorceResource - 19-Mar-18 @ 12:41 PM
Hi, my husband left me and our 10 year old daughter 18 months ago for another woman after being married for over 25 years. He now is requesting the sale of the family home. Our daughter does not want this to hapoen and has begged me to not let us move. I can not get a mortgage as he failed to pay half the bills and DDs bounced. I paid off the arrears and transferred them into my own account to ensure they were paid. I can afford the mortgage but he still says he wants it sold. He only pays half the mortgage and gives me £50 per week. His salary is double mine. In his solicitors letter he fails to state he lives with his girlfriend and can not afford to pay anymore and needs the money out of the house. He also wants me to pay for all sake costs
Missmoo - 17-Mar-18 @ 8:04 AM
Valusha - Your Question:
I have just seperated from my husband.we have a home which has joint tenancy and no mortgage. He moved out.I have 2 children and still live in our home. I take care of them fulltime. Can he force me to sell the house? I do not want to sell the house as its a good foundation for the kids and me not having to worry about rent etc.The school too is close by and I do not want to upset their routine.Any advise would be a great help

Our Response:
It is likely that you would be allowed to remain in the house with your children, should the matter have to go to court. However, agreeing between you is always the best option, if you can.
DivorceResource - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:27 PM
I have just seperated from my husband.we have a home which has joint tenancy and no mortgage. He moved out. .I have 2 children and still live in our home. I take care of them fulltime. Can he force me to sell the house? I do not want to sell the house as its a good foundation for the kids and me not having to worry about rent etc.The school too is close by and I do not want to upset their routine.Any advise would be a great help
Valusha - 11-Mar-18 @ 9:32 PM
Hi My ex had an affair 9 years ago and lives with her he gives me £500 per month maint for 2 children 16 and 13, I have recently started seeing someone after 9 years and he is now trying to force me to sell the house! I got a CCJ last year and don't earn enough to re-mortgage, I do his accounts and now that he should be giving me more than £500 per month but he is now threatening me that my new partner is not allowed in the house and forcing me to sell Can he force me to sell?
jo - 9-Mar-18 @ 3:26 PM
narked b - Your Question:
My daughter in law refuses to sign the money order as part of their divorce, which means the decree nisi is on hold. She claims she cannot get a mortgage, which would have enabled my son to get £45,000 to put towards his mortgage.They still live in the same house ,he lives in the conservatory.Their children are 9 and 15.He cannot leave the house as he would be homeless. He is still paying half the mortgage. He has been told that if he takes her to court to sell the house , he would lose as his wife is the children's primary carer.He feels trapped and feels that the law cannot help his situation.What can he do ?

Our Response:
If your son's wife cannot get a mortgage to cover the whole of the house then this is where the stalemate situation occurs. It is not necessarily either party's fault, it comes down to finances. However, if your son takes the matter to court, then the court will prioritise the children and what it feels is in their best interests. If however, your son's wife could afford to buy your son out and she is being awkward, then it may be worth him seeking legal advice.
DivorceResource - 8-Mar-18 @ 12:24 PM
my daughter in law refuses to sign the money order as part of their divorce, which means the decree nisi is on hold. She claims she cannot get a mortgage, which would have enabled my son to get £45,000 to put towards his mortgage.They still live in the same house ,he lives in the conservatory.Their children are 9 and 15.He cannot leave the house as he would be homeless. He is still paying half the mortgage . He has been told that if he takes her to court to sell the house , he would lose as his wife is the children's primary carer.He feels trapped and feels that the law cannot help his situation.What can he do ?
narked b - 7-Mar-18 @ 10:28 AM
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