Home > Ask Our Experts > Can I Legally Force My Ex to Sell Our Property?

Can I Legally Force My Ex to Sell Our Property?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 26 Jul 2017 |
 
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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[Add a Comment]
Hi my partner has a morgage with his ex. They have been split up 4 years she has changed the locks so he can't get in and they now owe arrears as she can't afford the full morgage. My partner wants her to sell the house but she refuses and wants him to sign to consolidate the outstanding debt. They have two children together. We would like to be able to buy our own house but while his names on the morgage we can't get nothing. What are our options.
Amzbook - 26-Jul-17 @ 9:45 AM
Debs - Your Question:
Hi, my husband & I divorced 11yrs ago, he wouldn't move out of the house we own together so I moved out with our 2 kids and he remained in the house. I have been trying to get him to sell the house for yrs but he won't and just ignores any emails, letters etc that I send him about it. I WANT to get this place sold so that I can get on with my life, how can I make this happen?

Our Response:
If your ex-husband will not agree, your only recourse would be to apply to take the matter to court.
DivorceResource - 25-Jul-17 @ 12:14 PM
Hi, my husband & I divorced 11yrs ago, he wouldn't move out of the house we own together so I moved out with our 2 kids and he remained in the house. I have been trying to get him to sell the house for yrs but he won't and just ignores any emails, letters etc that I send him about it. I WANT to get this place sold so that I can get on with my life, how can I make this happen?
Debs - 24-Jul-17 @ 3:08 PM
Jimmy - Your Question:
Me and my wife departed over 5years ago when I left my Ex was living in the house, but in 2014 she move out leaving the house in a very poor state. I have photos and a valuation of 125.000 because of the way the house was left in, I spent over 20,000 bring it up to it current state. I need to sell it now and she will not contact me and I do not know where is lives now, how long would it take me to force her to sell.

Our Response:
You would need to seek professional legal advice to find out more about bringing this matter to court if your wife is non-contactable. We could not specify a time frame as it depends upon the wider circumstances.
DivorceResource - 18-Jul-17 @ 12:40 PM
Me and my wife departed over 5years ago when I left my Ex was living in the house, but in 2014 she move out leaving the house in a very poor state. I have photos and a valuation of 125.000 because of the way the house was left in, I spent over 20,000 bring it up to it current state. I need to sell it now and she will not contact me and I do not know where is lives now, how long would it take me to force her to sell.
Jimmy - 17-Jul-17 @ 7:26 PM
Beckster2 - Your Question:
Divorced 8 years, property is mine subject to mortgage. Daughter is 15 and in receipt of DLA. Maintenance has been the same for 9 years - asked for an increase and he has said "You won’t be getting any more money from me a month. Let’s not go down that route, or I might insist on you selling the house to get me off the mortgage."Question: Can he do that?

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely a court would rule that you would have to sell the house if your daughter is under 18 years of age. The court will always rule for what it thinks is in the best interests of your child and if your child is disabled, then having a roof over her head is the most important factor here. If your child maintenance has not risen in accordance with inflation, then you have every right to ask for a 'variation'. If child maintenance has been awarded via a court order, then you would have to apply back to court. If child maintenance is awarded through CSA, an annual review is usually carried out. If child maintenance is organised through a family-based arrangement and your ex is refusing to increase payments, then you can apply via CMS, who will carry out a maintenance assessment. You can see how much you should be receiving via the child maintenance calculator here.
DivorceResource - 17-Jul-17 @ 12:57 PM
Divorced 8 years, property is mine subject to mortgage.Daughter is 15 and in receipt of DLA. Maintenance has been the same for 9 years - asked for an increase and he has said "You won’t be getting any more money from me a month. Let’s not go down that route, or I might insist on you selling the house to get me off the mortgage." Question: Can he do that?
Beckster2 - 15-Jul-17 @ 8:03 PM
Disgruntled ex-wife - Your Question:
My ex husband walked out on myself and our 2 children aged 15 and 10 I've been paying the mortgage for 3 years since he left. He's now insisting we sell the house can he do this without my consent

Our Response:
No, the best approach is to try to agree a way forward between you either mutually or via mediation. If you cannot agree, then your ex would have the option to take the matter to court. However, it is unlikely a court would force you to sell while your children are in full-time education, especially if you have no other alternative. You may wish to seek legal advice to explore your options.
DivorceResource - 13-Jul-17 @ 2:34 PM
My ex husband walked out on myself and our 2 children aged 15 and 10 I've been paying the mortgage for 3 years since he left . He's now insisting we sell the house can he do this without my consent
Disgruntled ex-wife - 12-Jul-17 @ 6:56 PM
Hello, My ex partner and I broke up in August 2009, I left the property we own as tenants in common and I said he could keep the house, equity and the house contents. I gave him two years to try get a mortgage on his own and when he couldn't i insisted that the house should go on the market which it did in November 2011. The house has had very little interest and the offers we have had have been 10k below the asking price which my ex has refused to sell at. It's now 8 years since I left and I'm still stuck on the mortgage. My dad has recently retired and offered to buy the house at the asking price but my ex has turned him down and says he wants to keep the house but he doesn't seem to be trying to get a mortgage or he can't get one. I feel like I have waited long enough for him to try get a mortgage or sell the house. I no longer pay the mortgage and my ex now lives in the house with his girlfriend and her child. Could the courts make him sell yobmt Dad for the asking price, surely after 8 years this would be a reasonable thing?
Lou - 11-Jul-17 @ 8:40 PM
Kerryhj - Your Question:
Hi me and my husband hv been separated for 2 and a half years. I this time I hv had a boyfriend but we r no longer together. Bumped into each other a little while back - a total one off and now I find myself pregnant with the ex boyfriends baby, I hv 4 boys 16, 14, 13 and 10. I'm living in the marital home which is a 4 bedroom house. My husband is now threatening to make me sell and take the boys to live with him. Can he do this? Many thanks

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely a court would ask you to leave your marital home until your youngest child aged 10 has left full-time education. Once this happens your ex may have a chance of forcing you to sell the house by taking the matter to court, as your expectant child is not his responsibility. However, we cannot predict what a court may decide.
DivorceResource - 11-Jul-17 @ 2:18 PM
the o - Your Question:
Hi I still live in the same property as my ex husband. I want to sell and he wont budge. he will not go to mediation. I am stuck as I cant afford to move into my own property without any money behind me. what can I do?

Our Response:
Your only option is to take the matter to court or divorce arbitration. You may wish to explain that it will be expensive for both of you if the matter has to be decided through court. This may give him the needed jolt to consider mediation. Otherwise, you would have to seek legal advice regarding taking the matter to court for the court to decide how your property should be divided.
DivorceResource - 11-Jul-17 @ 11:14 AM
Hi me and my husband hv been separated for 2 and a half years. I this time I hv had a boyfriend but we r no longer together. Bumped into each other a little while back - a total one off and now I find myself pregnant with the ex boyfriends baby, I hv 4 boys 16, 14, 13 and 10. I'm living in the marital home which is a 4 bedroom house. My husband is now threatening to make me sell and take the boys to live with him. Can he do this? Many thanks
Kerryhj - 11-Jul-17 @ 11:04 AM
Hi i still live in the same property as my ex husband. I want to sell and he wont budge. he will not go to mediation. I am stuck as i cant afford to move into my own property without any money behind me. what can i do?
the o - 10-Jul-17 @ 2:57 PM
Stu - Your Question:
At what age of my kids can I ask for mx ex to sell the house as she doesnt want swll the house. They are currently aged 7 and 10.

Our Response:
A court would usually rule that your children reach 18 and have completed their full-time education before they will force a resident-parent to sell the house.
DivorceResource - 6-Jul-17 @ 3:46 PM
At what age of my kids can i ask for mx ex to sell the house as she doesnt want swll the house. They are currently aged 7 and 10...
Stu - 5-Jul-17 @ 6:04 PM
John - Your Question:
My wife wishes to separate but I don't. She wants me to buy her out but I don't want to. Can she enforce a sale? We have 2 children, a 9 year old and a 21 year old living with us.

Our Response:
Much depends upon how the relationship degenerates and whether one of you decides to move out and/or your wife decides to apply to court. However, you cannot be forced into buying your wife out if you do not wish to.
DivorceResource - 4-Jul-17 @ 3:32 PM
@Army - it happens both ways around unfortunately. History has seen men accusing women of taking them for every penny, but now as women and men have equality it works both ways. If he has a pension you can apply for half of his too. But if you both jointly own the house then it's right that it should be split equally. It also depends upon who is the main carer of your kids (or rather youngest kid), as that parent generally gets the better deal as a court will always decide in the child's interests first. Hel.
Helen - 3-Jul-17 @ 11:45 AM
I was married for 20 years until 2 years ago when my ex cheated on me I paid for our divorce as he didn't get a solicitor we have been divorced for 1 year now and he's dragging me back to court with his solicitor this time to make me sign over my house to him which is jointly owned he's paid the mortgage for the last year as I had to leave the property my kids are 16 and 20 he is also going after my pension and wants every penny off me as he won't rest until he sees me penny less .. the stress is killing me as he left me in £30.000 of debt to I can't take much more I'm off work with stress now
Army - 2-Jul-17 @ 4:58 PM
Lou - Your Question:
I am married with twin girls aged 7 years, we live together in our marital home. We have been together for 10 10 years our relationship is struggling due to my husband's depression, without going into detail. things have become unbearable and I have to think of my own mental state and my daughter's. I need to move out of the home with my girls but If I do I don't know where I stand legally with the house/ mortgage.? We have a joint mortgage , but he pays it and I pay for utilities, food Tec. I work 4 days a week and I couldn't afford to take on the mortgage myself. Can you offer any advice? Many thanksv

Our Response:
If you move out of the family home and file for a divorce, you can request the home is sold. If you are married, regardless of what you or your husband pay towards the home it is considered jointly owned. Only if it was a pre-marital asset (owned by your husband prior to marriage) might he be able to claim more and/or if the deposit came from a third party. Please see link here for further information.
DivorceResource - 27-Jun-17 @ 3:24 PM
I am married with twin girls aged 7 years, welive together in our marital home.We have been together for 10 10years our relationship is struggling due to my husband's depression, without going into detail ... things have become unbearable and I have to think ofmy own mental state and my daughter's ... I need to move out of the home with my girls but If I do I don't know where I stand legally with the house/ mortgage..?We have a joint mortgage , but he pays it and I pay for utilities, food Tec. I work 4 days a week and I couldn't afford to take on the mortgage myself.Can you offer any advice?. Many thanksv
Lou - 27-Jun-17 @ 8:34 AM
Dptheex - Your Question:
I have decided to leave my wife as I have been unhappy for a while.We have 3 kids 13 16 and 22. I want us to sell the house as I need the equity to move on. She has a good job and pension pot in her own right (3 x bigger than mine, of which I dont want any) she would be able to afford a nice house withing a couple of miles of where we life, but wants to stay in the marital home as it is large and in an exclusive area. She cant afford to buy me out or maintain the mortgage payment on her own.Can she refuse to sell?

Our Response:
She can refuse to sell if your youngest child is in full-time education and your wife is to be the primary carer of your children. Plus, a court is likely to back her up as it will always put the welfare of your (school age) children first. I suggest you take legal advice as you will also be expected to pay child maintenance (unless your wife agrees otherwise). Paying for some legal advice now may save you some nasty financial shocks later on.
DivorceResource - 26-Jun-17 @ 3:53 PM
Lucia - Your Question:
My husband wanted a divorce in March 2017 as HE has met someone else. He has been away from our home and only comes to wash his clothes and stay probably once every 2wks if that. He has been abroad once already in June 2017 and is going to the Caribbean in July 2017. He now states the mortgage us in arrears and I need to pay more to it. I pay every other bill plus I am part time. He is full time and works weekends. He said he wants the home sold Asap as he wanted to rent out the upstairs without the mortgage people knowing and I said NO to this. Can I be forced out. Should I tell the mortgage company.

Our Response:
You don't say whether you have children between you. If you don't and you don't agree to sell the house then your husband can take you to court to attempt to force the sale (which will cost you both in legal fees etc). If you own the house jointly then you should try to agree between you how to keep the mortgage out of arrears (if you can) as it is in both of your best interests. Plus, if you cannot afford the upkeep of the house, or to buy him out then the house will either end up being repossessed, or you will have to sell and have to cover the mortgage costs, so this is a lose-lose situation.The only advice I can give you here is to try to come to a resolution between you that will mean you can both salvage some money from the sale to enable you both to sever the financial ties to each other and begin your lives afresh. A judge in court will not judge your husband on his extra-marital affair, he/she will only want to try to resolve the situation. If you have children under school leaving age between you, then you may be allowed to stay longer and a judge may request that your husband helps financially to keep a roof over their heads. You may wish to seek further legal advice.
DivorceResource - 26-Jun-17 @ 11:34 AM
I have decided to leave my wife as i have been unhappy for a while. We have 3 kids 13 16 and 22. I want us to sell the house as i need the equity to move on. She has a good job and pension pot in her own right (3 x bigger than mine, of which i dont want any) she would be able to afford a nice house withing a couple of miles of where we life, but wants to stay in the marital home as it is large and in an exclusive area. She cant afford to buy me out or maintain the mortgage payment on her own. Can she refuse to sell?
Dptheex - 25-Jun-17 @ 7:33 PM
My husband wanted a divorce in March 2017 as HE has met someone else. He has been away from our home and only comes to wash his clothes and stay probably once every 2wks if that. He has been abroad once already in June 2017 and is going to the Caribbean in July 2017. He now states the mortgage us in arrears and I need to pay more to it.I pay every other bill plus I am part time. He is full time and works weekends. He said he wants the home sold Asap as he wanted to rent out the upstairs without the mortgage people knowing and I said NO to this. Can i be forced out. Should I tell the mortgage company..
Lucia - 23-Jun-17 @ 4:57 PM
My wife wishes to separate but I don't. She wants me to buy her out but I don't want to. Can she enforce a sale? We have 2 children, a 9 year old and a 21 year old living with us.
John - 20-Jun-17 @ 3:08 PM
Tracy- Your Question:
My exhusband had the house before we met married 9 years his name is on the deeds etc no mortgage can he sell it without me agreeing to it or can I protect myself and am I entitled to half if sold

Our Response:
If your husband bought the house before you were married, then it is considered a pre-marital asset. However, if you are married you will be entitled to a share - but not necessarily half. Much depends upon the length of the marriage, how long your husband has owned the property, how your much husband put into the property prior to marriage and whether you have children together. You may wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
DivorceResource - 16-Jun-17 @ 3:57 PM
Tonka - Your Question:
My husband and I split 17 yrs ago I sold the marital home and gave him £17k I bought a new property for me and the 2 kids that we still live in that was 10yrs ago the kids are now adults I have this house in my own name and not seen my ex since can he come back and ask me to sell this house for more money ????

Our Response:
If you have not had a 'clean break' divorce, there is always a remote option that your ex can attempt to claim further money 'if' he personally thinks he has a right. However, if it can be shown an agreed fair financial arrangement has taken place and the property is in your name, then he would have little recourse.
DivorceResource - 16-Jun-17 @ 11:53 AM
Just to add to my previous comment we never divorced as he moved out the area and did not give a forwarding address
Tonka - 15-Jun-17 @ 8:31 PM
My husband and I split 17 yrs ago I sold the marital home and gave him £17k I bought a new property for me and the 2 kids that we still live in that was 10yrs ago the kids are now adults I have this house in my own name and not seen my ex since can he come back and ask me to sell this house for more money ????
Tonka - 15-Jun-17 @ 8:29 PM
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