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Can I Legally Force My Ex to Sell Our Property?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 20 Jan 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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Hi again it is phil I want to sell the house and split the money her mum's house has just sold and I am entitled to half the money and she says I am not having any she is putting in her sisters acount and lying about the sale but I have proof with text messages all my mum's money went into the house what she left me bless her and I want a divorse I am on the sick from work and have been ill for many years just could not carry on any more we have been abuse to one another for many years and police been involved verbally an fighting many years ago she dumpt my children on my mum's door step and 3 of us had to share a room for many weeks everything has come to a head now I did nothing she got a heighbour to change the locks so the police said I can't go back tonight so I have stopped at my mates I have not been arrested by the police most of my belongings are in the house and police say they will go up with me to get them out I wanted a divorce anyway she has turned most of the nieghouls against me comparing husbands she says she is not turning up for mediation how do you apply to the courts if you only get 75 pounds week I can't help I have ill health thanks P.Higham I just want my fare share
Phil - 20-Jan-18 @ 10:58 PM
Hi, me and my husband separated around 8 months ago. I have took on the house on my own, we have a joint morgage but I pay everything plus the bills. I am worried when I sell in a couple of years will he be intitled to the equity I have gained since the seperation even thou I have been paying the morgage on my own? Is there anything I can do? Thank you
Dee - 20-Jan-18 @ 6:34 PM
My wifes has taken out an injuction against me which means I cant live in my own house, on top of that I've just been made redundant and wont be able to pay the mortgage, which I've paid fully every month for the 14 years we,ve been married. On top of that we have 2 children aged 10 and 13. In this case can I sell the house, because as of next month I wont be able to pay the mortgage anyway. To compound it my wife is not likely to agree to selling it, but I dont see I have any choice in the matter, she doesnt work and wouldnt be able to pay the mortgage herself.
Mark2000 - 20-Jan-18 @ 5:29 PM
My brothers partner has been made bankrupt. They split r years ago. She has not paid anything towards the mortgage since splitting. She now has a council house for her and their 2 children. They have just had an offer for the flat but She is refusing to sell the flat they both own. Where does he stand?
Azza - 19-Jan-18 @ 11:00 PM
Phil - Your Question:
Hi I have split with my wife over Christmas she is refusing to sell we are 6 months behind on the morgadge I of work threw ill health had first appointment with mediation to try and agree selling but I know she won't turn up there is now reasoning with her I spent 25 thousand of my mum's money in the house constant falling out over allot years police been involved my son is 18 and my daughter 14 can I go threw the courts to Forse a Sale I am only on sickness benifit and don't need all this strees her playing games thanks P.Higham

Our Response:
The issue you have here is that if your wife is to remain the primary carer of your children, the court will first and foremost put your children's best interests first if they are both (or one) in full-time education. As a rule, this usually means the least disruption as possible is preferred and usually means a court will allow the primary carer to remain in the house with the children, until the children leave eduction. However, if you are both falling behind with the payments, then the court will take this matter into consideration. Taking the matter to court will also cost. If you can try to resolve the issue fairly with your ex, or through mediation, this will be much better for you all, all round. Beyond that, your only recourse is court - but court may not work in your favour. You may wish to seek some legal advice regarding this in the first instance, in order to consider all options.
DivorceResource - 19-Jan-18 @ 12:39 PM
Hi I have split with my wife over Christmas she is refusing to sell we are 6 months behind on the morgadge Iof work threw ill health had first appointment with mediation to try and agree selling but I know she won't turn up there is now reasoning with her I spent 25 thousand of my mum's money in the house constant falling out over allot years police been involved my son is 18 and my daughter 14 can I go threw the courts to Forse a Sale I am only on sickness benifit and don't need all this strees her playing games thanks P.Higham
Phil - 18-Jan-18 @ 5:34 PM
Tim - Your Question:
Hi Thanks for your response forgive me f I sounded abit harsh just destroyed me for a few years after such a long time. So that still all counts the same even if she is not on the morgage I’m not trying to shun what is due and the fact she is so much better off than me after split just abit hard to take as she left me and had affair.Many thanks

Our Response:
In this case, as the marriage was long and even though your property could be considered a pre-marital asset (which can revert back to the person who is on the mortgage in terms of short marriages) the significant length of your marriage and the fact you have children together, will allow your ex to make a claim. I am sorry to hear of your split - I empathise with how difficult it can be - but a court will not judge/punish a person for having an affair. However, it will consider both of your 'needs' - and hopefully you will be able to sort the situation outside of court. You may wish to seek legal advice to see what your best options are.
DivorceResource - 15-Jan-18 @ 2:44 PM
Hi Thanks for your response forgive me f I sounded abit harsh just destroyed me for a few years after such a long time . So that still all counts the same even if she is not on the morgage I’m not trying to shun what is due and the fact she is so much better off than me after split just abit hard to take as she left me and had affair . Many thanks
Tim - 13-Jan-18 @ 3:55 PM
I recently got engaged to a man & we purchased a house together as joint tenants. I was living in a 3 bed rented house with my 2 children, which I could afford. We got the mortgage together, he stayed with me for months whilst he saved and with his mum when he had his children. He put in the £130k deposit & we got a mortgage for £200k. House is still worth 330-350k. As soon as we moved in he became abusive & literally changed overnight. My friend called the police one night & he left, but was soon back at the house, telling me I had to leave & was taking me to court and selling the house. My children became scared. Friends & Family then moved us into temporary accommodation(6 months), which is expensive, but required no deposit. My ex has now changed the locks on our home & said I must never come back & he is now not selling it, but I must remove my name from the mortgage and the deeds. I don’t know what to do. Any help and/or advice would be appreciated please, as I have nothing & i’m scared my children & I will now be homeless in 6 months time.
Heartbroken - 12-Jan-18 @ 11:21 PM
Tim - Your Question:
Hi My wife ran off with her plastic surgeon that we both payed for boob job that was 6 years ago she left the house saying it was mine she has never payed for any morgage payment all the time we wer together 20 years but did bring up my two children that are now grown up 22/24 she has gone off and became very well off with him but is now asking me to sell the house and give her half where do I stand.Please advise many thanks

Our Response:
If you are/were married, then regardless of how well off she is financially now, she is still entitled to half (or thereof) of your joint marital estate given the length of your marriage. The fact she didn't pay mortgage payments would not be considered, as she was bringing up the children (a job in itself). You may wish to seek legal advice if you want to challenge her request. Mediation may be an option to consider if you cannot agree to split the finances equally/fairly. However, keep in mind any legal challenge will significantly cost, so it is best if you can agree between yourselves.
DivorceResource - 12-Jan-18 @ 2:23 PM
Hi My wife ran off with her plastic surgeon that we both payed for boob job that was 6 years ago she left the house saying it was mine she has never payed for any morgage payment all the time we wer together 20 years but did bring up my two children that are now grown up 22/24 she has gone off and became very well off with him but is now asking me to sell the house and give her half where do I stand . Please advise many thanks
Tim - 11-Jan-18 @ 7:58 PM
Super - Your Question:
Hi, I divorced my husband 2 years ago, and have lived overseas for 4 years now.We bought a house in uk and he still currently lives there.he pays the mortgage. I however have 3 kids from this marriage and they live with me 100% of the time, and he contributes minimal amount for kids. I want to sell the house and use my share to relieve some financial pressure and find a permanent home for us instead of renting. He is refusing to sell.what are my options? I am overseas and can’t travel to uk due to high costs involved.

Our Response:
Your only option in this matter would be to take this to court. Only a court can make a decision, where one party does not agree. However, if you have three children, then you would stand a good chance of getting some financial settlement (where/if a settlement was not previously agreed).
DivorceResource - 11-Jan-18 @ 2:04 PM
Hi, I divorced my husband 2 years ago, and have lived overseas for 4 years now. We bought a house in uk and he still currently lives there......he pays the mortgage.... I however have 3 kids from this marriage and they live with me 100% of the time, and he contributes minimal amount for kids. I want to sell the house and use my share to relieve some financial pressure and find a permanent home for us instead of renting. He is refusing to sell...what are my options? I am overseas and can’t travel to uk due to high costs involved.
Super - 10-Jan-18 @ 4:11 AM
Nik - Your Question:
Means my ex (never married) moved out of the house me both own nearly 7 years ago, he hasn’t paid a penny towards the mortgage since moving out and only paid half when he was living there. We have 2 children who live with both of us, he is trying to false me to sell the house now, can he do this? And is he also entitled to half the equity?

Our Response:
If you bought the house together and you both put money into the house, then it might be that he wants the money he put into the house back. You can either make an agreement between you, or via mediation what you should do with the house (also taking into consideration that you have paid the mortgage for seven years) and come to agreement, or you could buy him out. Otherwise, if your ex is forcing you to sell and you do not agree to sell, then he will have the option to take the matter to court for the court to decide. This will cost both of you in legal fees if this happens, so it's always best to agree between you about what you both think is fair (whilst also making sure the children are also first and foremost considered in any arrangement). You would really have to seek legal advice as the information you have given is not enough to give an opinion regarding what your ex's rights or your own may be. Much depends upon how much both of you put into the house, it's increase in value and what equity remains.
DivorceResource - 9-Jan-18 @ 11:43 AM
Means my ex (never married) moved out of the house me both own nearly 7 years ago, he hasn’t paid a penny towards the mortgage since moving out and only paid half when he was living there. We have 2 children who live with both of us, he is trying to false me to sell the house now, can he do this? And is he also entitled to half the equity?
Nik - 8-Jan-18 @ 6:25 PM
@Grumpy - I think we can assume that if your daughter's ex is spending money to take your daughter to court to force the sale of the house, then he will stick to the court order to try to ensure a sale goes through smoothly. However, if a court order is put into place and either party feels the other party is not sticking to the terms of the order, it would have to be referred back to court. This is a very expensive way to resolve a property issue, so it is in the best interests that both parties agree on the terms of the sale, or any equity (if there is any) from both sides will go straight into the pockets of the legal firms representing the parties, leaving both the arguing parties with next to nothing or even in debt!
RogerT - 8-Jan-18 @ 2:00 PM
I am currently going threw a devorce, but still living in the marital home with my wife and step son, my wife is constantly asking me to leave the marital home, as if I do not she says she will take a court order to have me removed as she feels threatened, even thow she is not, just to get me out of the marital house, we’re do I stand from these threats
Sheriff - 6-Jan-18 @ 6:34 PM
My daughter's ex partner, to whom she is not married, is taking her to court to force the sale of the property which they jointly own. If she agrees to sell on the court day, how can she be sure he will stick to his side of the bargain and not do stupid things like pull out of any potential sale on exchange day, demand a higher sale price and generally be desruptive to any proceedings as is likely.
Grumpy - 6-Jan-18 @ 3:35 PM
Crout - Your Question:
I’m in the process of filing for a divorce me and my wife at present have been married just over a year and have a 7 month old child and also a mortgage we have spoken and agreed on selling the house etc but my soon to be x wife is worried and so am I that the social will not help her and our son as I can not afford to keep them in our family home as I also have another child in a previous relationship can you help as this is worrying issue for me and my wife and would like to know where my x partner stands

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your ex will have/has savings with regards to whether she will receive benefits. If the equity from the house for her share is over £16,000, or if she has savings that takes her over £16,000 she will not be entitled to receive Universal Credit. You can see more via the link here .
DivorceResource - 5-Jan-18 @ 2:49 PM
@Jez - if there is no equity in the house, then there is no point in your ex trying to make a claim. But if you've got two kids and they have nowhere to go, then a court could order that she stays in the house if she is the day-to-day carer of the kids. Sje might also be able to claim some equity in the future if your house ever comes out of negative equity.
Hal - 5-Jan-18 @ 1:51 PM
I bought my house in 1999 and got arrange marriagein 2005 in Pakistan And been married for 10 years now ,with 2 kids...she has been having affairs behind my back ..she has moved out of my house 2 years ago , she's been asking me to get the house on jointed name's for long time and I have tried to with lender and the lender said no ,only because I bought house long time before you got married.I have remortgage the house long time ago before I got married and I owe more money to lender than house is worth , can she still take half the house off me ..I live in the house and I pay the mortgage on my own ...
Jez - 2-Jan-18 @ 10:08 AM
I’m in the process of filing for a divorce me and my wife at present have been married just over a year and have a 7 month old child and also a mortgage we have spoken and agreed on selling the house etc but my soon to be x wife is worried and so am I that the social will not help her and our son as I can not afford to keep them in our family home as I also have another child in a previous relationship can you help as this is worrying issue for me and my wife and would like to know where my x partner stands
Crout - 1-Jan-18 @ 10:41 PM
Hi me and my ex split 2 years ago. We have a property which is mortgage free as my parents gifted us £75k of equity on a property they owed . We renovated it an paid it off within 5 years. I have filed for a divorce as she ended it. I'm happy for her to live there as long as she needs to for my kids sake .I want 50% ownership of property if she was ever to sell it but she wants me to have 50% of what it's valued now. So if house prices were to increase say 30-40% in next 10 -15 years would she be entitled to her demand.
G.t - 30-Dec-17 @ 6:12 AM
My wife and I divorced 3 years ago she moved out and left me with the house. She doesn’t pay anything towards it, but her name is on the house. I am unable to get her name off the house because of a foreclosure of the old house we were trying to sell during our divorce. Can she force me to sell this house?
Evan - 11-Dec-17 @ 7:08 PM
KimmyMinx - Your Question:
Hi, me and my ex husband brought a shared ownership house back in 2008 in 2015 I left him after a violent relationship through the 10 years relationship. I have since moved on with a new partner who currently lives with me and also have i’m nine-year-old son to my ex and a five month old to my current partner. I have been unable to divorce due to financial difficulties in the debt that my partner left me with, Which I have now been able to consolidate and are in a better place financially. My ex partner (ex husband) does contribute towards half the rent and half the mortgage but that is it I pay for the insurances and all bills as well as half the mortgage and rent. Is there any way that I can look into possibly forcing him out in the respect that I can out I can buy his share of what is paid into the home and take his name off the mortgage.

Our Response:
In this respect, I would speak with your mortgage company, if you are living in the house, (as you don't say whether you or your ex are currently living there). If your ex is living in the house and you are living elsewhere, then you would have a good chance of forcing the sale in order to release equity (especially if you are having to live elsewhere and are paying towards it and also paying towards the upkeep of your mutual child together). You may be best seeking some legal advice in order to explore your options.
DivorceResource - 11-Dec-17 @ 1:49 PM
Hi, me and my ex husband brought a shared ownership house back in 2008 in 2015 I left him after a violent relationship through the 10 years relationship.I have since moved on with a new partner who currently lives with me and also havei’m nine-year-old son to my ex and a five month old to my current partner. I have been unable to divorce due to financial difficulties in the debt that my partner left me with, Which I have now been able to consolidate and are in a better place financially. My ex partner (ex husband)does contribute towards half the rent and half the mortgage but that is it I pay for the insurances and all bills as well as half the mortgage and rent.Is there any way that I can look into possibly forcing him out in the respect that I can out I can buy his share of what is paid into the home and take his name off the mortgage.
KimmyMinx - 8-Dec-17 @ 6:11 PM
I am going through a divorce we both reside in England but own joint property in France can I force the sale of this property and split the money there are no other assets and how do I do this
Cancer - 23-Nov-17 @ 7:33 PM
My ex and I own the house she lives in. She now has a guy living in the house and I still pay my half of the mortgage. Am I able to move back in the house regardless of their relationship. I live in my rundown property and don’t have the cash to pay bills and fix up the property. So would I be able to move back in our house without getting into trouble to help save money.
Tracey - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:37 PM
Neil - Your Question:
Hi, I have been separated and divorced for nearly 9 years and have 2 children 9 & 13. I am still on the mortgage with my ex wife. I have asked numerous times for her to buy me out or sell as there is around £50k in equity. I haven't paid toward the mortgage for 8 and half years but we put £35k down as deposit. can I force a sale as I have another child who I want to provide a house for as well as my other 2 children. I am stuck at my parents not being able to get back on the property ladder.

Our Response:
It's unlikely a court would force your ex to sell while you have two children in full-time education. Once your children reach age 18 and leave education, then you should be able to force the sale. However, unfortunately taking it to court will cost.
DivorceResource - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:09 PM
My husband split with his ex partner almost 3 years ago. She is still on the mortgage as a tenant in common. My husbands father died In a tragic factory incident where he was dragged into a tarmac making machine and killed instantly, which is how they had the funds to put a deposit down on a house. He took her to america twice for £10 grand a piece and when she went on maternity leave he transferred her £8,000 to cover the bills she would be paying she only actually paid for bills in the house for 9-12 months and he has paid the bills for the last 3 years on his own. She left said she didn’t love him any more. Moved out and within a month had moved in with one of his best friends. At the time she said she only wanted £3,000-£5000 to have her name taken off the mortgage. Now she wants £10,000 he could only get £7000 and offered her that. She is now trying to make him sell the house. I have 2 questions Can she do that with mine and his 5 month old daughter living here. And Is she entitled to half of everything INCLUDING the £8250 deposit he put down which came from a payout after his fathers death.
Kayleigh3283 - 13-Nov-17 @ 1:20 PM
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