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Can I Legally Force My Ex to Sell Our Property?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 24 May 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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My partner left me with two young kids over 10 years ago when they were both very young .My youngest is now 15 .He as never paid anything to the mortgage or the upkeep of our home.And only just started payin proper maintenance for my children after i took him to csa. I am very worried that when the children reach 18 he will want half of our home .We are both named on the mortgage where do i stand on this
lisa - 24-May-17 @ 11:10 PM
Robs - Your Question:
I left my ex partner 7 years ago and at the time we had just bought of our second home. The property is still on interest only still after all this time. I have tried and tried to get her to either sell up, buy me out or even change the mortgage. She lives there with her partner and child but I am trying to move on and buy my own place now but with this hanging over my head as she simply doesn't seem bothered and is paying minimum amount each month. I rang the mortgage company today and explained I just want offor the mortgage and mentioned a TR1 FORM to which the customer service advisor told me that the company no longer do mortgages but only look after existing mortgages and they cannot take my name of it even if they wanted too. I'm at my wits end and I simply want to buy my own property for me and my little girl and get away from this one. Any advice would be of great help. The mortgage company in question is AMC PARATUS

Our Response:
I can only suggest you seek legal advice. If your ex refuses to buy you out of the house, then your only recourse is for the courts to decide. You don't say whether the child is yours or not. If the child is not yours, then a solicitor should be able to advise you of a way out of this situation. If the child is yours, then it may be more difficult.
DivorceResource - 16-May-17 @ 11:39 AM
I left my ex partner 7 years ago and at the time we had just bought of our second home. The property is still on interest only still after all this time. I have tried and tried to get her to either sell up, buy me out or even change the mortgage. She lives there with her partner and child but I am trying to move on and buy my own place now but with this hanging over my head as she simply doesn't seem bothered and is paying minimum amount each month. I rang the mortgage company today and explained I just want offor the mortgage and mentioned a TR1 FORM to which the customer service advisor told me that the company no longer do mortgages but only look after existing mortgages and they cannot take my name of it even if they wanted too. I'm at my wits end and I simply want to buy my own property for me and my little girl and get away from this one. Any advice would be of great help. The mortgage company in question is AMC PARATUS
Robs - 15-May-17 @ 3:28 PM
liz - Your Question:
My ex husband left our home 3 years ago. I stayed in the home while he moved in with his new girlfriend. He has not paid a penny towards the mortgage I have been paying this myself.He now wants to sell the house and I can't afford to buy him out. There is no equitype in the property and we have no children.Can he force me to sell

Our Response:
If your ex's name is on the mortgage and he wishes to disentangle himself from the commitment, if you can't agree a solution between yourselves he can request the courts makes the decision.
DivorceResource - 15-May-17 @ 1:59 PM
My ex husband left our home 3 years ago. I stayed in the home while he moved in with his new girlfriend. He has not paid a penny towards the mortgage I have been paying this myself. He now wants to sell the house and I can't afford to buy him out. There is no equitype in the property and we have no children. Can he force me to sell
liz - 14-May-17 @ 11:27 PM
Mee - Your Question:
I cohabit with my partner, we have a joint mortgage, our relationship has broken down and he refuses to move out or allow me to buy me out the house, can I force the sale?

Our Response:
You would have to seek professional legal advice about taking the matter to court and in order to explore your options. As specified in the article, the courts can force a sale.
DivorceResource - 9-May-17 @ 2:41 PM
Martin Boy - Your Question:
My wife left me for another man 25 years ago. When she walk she didn't take anything or any financial settlement. When she walk out on me £10,000 was own the Mortgage but I pay it off. She hasn't contribute nothing to the property since she walk on me and leave with 2 boys age 15 and 17 at the time. We remain friends since the divorce 22 years ago. Now she wants to sell, very quick. Q) do I have any saying in the matter. Because everything is so quick. Can I Martin purpose the amounts I need.

Our Response:
You do not have to do anything, or agree to anything. It is unlikely your ex would be allowed much from the marriage if she left the property and you have brought up the children. I suggest you seek legal advice regarding what your own options are.
DivorceResource - 8-May-17 @ 2:58 PM
My wife left me for another man 25 years ago. When she walk she didn't take anything or any financial settlement. When she walk out on me £10,000 was own the Mortgage but I pay it off. She hasn't contribute nothing to the property since she walk on me and leave with 2 boys age 15 and 17 at the time. We remain friends since the divorce 22 years ago . Now she wants to sell, very quick. Q) do i have any saying in the matter.Because everything is so quick. Can i Martin purpose the amounts i need .
Martin Boy - 8-May-17 @ 1:00 AM
I cohabit with my partner, we have a joint mortgage, our relationship has broken down and he refuses to move out or allow me to buy me out the house, can I force the sale?
Mee - 6-May-17 @ 6:25 PM
Jamess - Your Question:
Hi, I've been away from my now ex wife for almost 7 years. We have a property together which I have no lived at since Sept 2010. We have a 10yr old boy together who I take 2-3 times per week. My ex paid the mortgage by herself when I left through her own choice, I wanted to sell up. There is no equity in the property due to my ex changing to interest only. She has now ran up nearly £1000 in arrears and will still not sell up. Instead she has made a deal with the mortgage company to pay a little back each month to the arrears which means I cannot get my name off the mortgage. I am now in the process of going bankrupt as this is my last hope of getting off this mortgage. Am I making the right choice?

Our Response:
We could not advise anyone to go voluntarily bankrupt. You would need to seek professional financial advice in order to explore your options.
DivorceResource - 3-May-17 @ 11:50 AM
Hi, I've been away from my now ex wife for almost 7 years. We have a property together which I have no lived at since Sept 2010. We have a 10yr old boy together who I take 2-3 times per week. My ex paid the mortgage by herself when I left through her own choice, I wanted to sell up. There is no equity in the property due to my ex changing to interest only. She has now ran up nearly £1000 in arrears and will still not sell up. Instead she has made a deal with the mortgage company to pay a little back each month to the arrears which means I cannot get my name off the mortgage. I am now in the process of going bankrupt as this is my last hope of getting off this mortgage. Am I making the right choice?
Jamess - 2-May-17 @ 10:24 PM
emms - Your Question:
Hi, I left my ex husband nearly 7yrs ago, divorced now for 4yrs. 2 of our children and I live in rented accommodation whilst he lives with his girlfriend in our marital home. When I left there were no arrears on the joint mortgage and all bills were upto date. There are now over £3,000 arrears on the mortgage and the mortgage company hold a possession order on the property. I would like to sell the property ir take my name off the mortgage but my ex refuses to sell and I can't take my name off the mortgage whilst there are arrears on it. We have no financial agreement in place and our youngest son will be 16 this yr. Can I force a sale on the property as it's now been over 6yrs and he has purposely built up arrears since I left to affect my credit score. I get no financial help from him and he is also £2,000 in arrears with his child support payments. I just want all financial ties with him/the mortgage sorted and finnished.

Our Response:
If your ex refuses to sell, you would have to seek legal advice regarding this. Unfortunately, you're in a stalemate position that only arbitration or the court can make a decision upon.
DivorceResource - 24-Apr-17 @ 12:35 PM
Hi, I left my ex husband nearly 7yrs ago, divorced now for 4yrs. 2 of our children and I live in rented accommodation whilst he lives with his girlfriend in our marital home. When I left there were no arrears on the joint mortgage and all bills were upto date. There are now over £3,000 arrears on the mortgage and the mortgage company hold a possession order on the property. I would like to sell the property ir take my name off the mortgage but my ex refuses to sell and i can't take my name off the mortgage whilst there are arrears on it. We have no financial agreement in place and our youngest son will be 16 this yr. Can I force a sale on the property as it's now been over 6yrs and he has purposely built up arrears since I left to affect my credit score. I get no financial help from him and he is also £2,000 in arrears with his child support payments... I just want all financial ties with him/the mortgage sorted and finnished.
emms - 23-Apr-17 @ 8:18 PM
@Mandy - How frustrating for you! Apply to take it back to court to get the order enforced.
Fee56 - 19-Apr-17 @ 12:46 PM
Hi, I have a charging order over a property I lived in with my ex husband, this was granted as he paid no maintenance but whilst taking him to court to get this order I lost my house, and business as I ran out of money to keep contesting his actions as he wouldn't turn up to court so hearings were adjourned or he asked for more time etc. But finally I got the charging order that was 12 years ago the house sat empty for a long time now he has a tenant in there.And has still not paid me any money.I have been in rented accommodation for 12 years but would like the money out of his house so I can use it as deposit for a new property is there any way of just selling the charge on or do I just need an order for sale?
Mandy - 19-Apr-17 @ 9:52 AM
@Porky - Wow! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!........It sounds like he didn't 'gift' you the money, but contributed the the money in order to help you both buy the house as a married couple. On such a short marriage (unless you have a child between you), then chances are he should be awarded much or all of what will be considered as his own pre-marital money. You'll be very lucky if you are awarded 50% of his military pension based on a two-year marriage. The court will not judge or punish your ex because of his actions of infidelity. The only people that benefit financially in court cases are the legal teams who will be rubbing their hands over this one. Court cases cost and if you lose (which might be likely) even though you are representing yourself you could be awarded the court costs and his legal fees. I'd be careful.
IanM - 11-Apr-17 @ 11:55 AM
Hi, I am about to go to court for a third and final time in respect of a financial order and I am representing myself as I don't want to pay legal fees.My ex-husband 'gifted' £50k to me to buy a house when we were married because we couldn't get a mortgage together due to his poor credit rating.Stupidly, when we were going through the break-up I put in an email I would pay him back his investment - I truly don't see why I should give it back to him as he left me for someone else.I do own 48% of another property with my brother and my 19 year old son lives with me.Judging by the previous court hearings the judge is likely to rule in favour of some sort of payment.I'm trying to go after 50% of his military pension but we were only together for less than 2 years. I'm not working at the moment as I gave in my job last November and now run my own business. Is there anything I can do to get it thrown out of court?I'll try anything, underhand or otherwise.On what grounds would I not be made to sell the house?
Porky - 10-Apr-17 @ 10:52 AM
Krem - Your Question:
Hi I've been divorced 2 years. But moved out 4 years ago I have a joint house of 20 years with my x wife. Can I force the sale on our house bearing in mind she has assets in another house with her sister of which she rents out and we have a 19 year old autistic son of which I have 30% of the time and still pay maintenance.

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this. You don't say whether you reached a financial arrangement/agreement when you divorced. However, if you didn't, you still may have a claim due to the length of your marriage and the fact your son is now 19.
DivorceResource - 4-Apr-17 @ 12:26 PM
Hi I've been divorced 2 years. But moved out 4 years ago I have a joint house of 20 years with my x wife. Can I force the sale on our house bearing in mind she has assets in another house with her sister of which she rents out and we have a 19 year old autistic son of which I have 30% of the time and still pay maintenance.
Krem - 3-Apr-17 @ 11:35 PM
My self & husband are in a lot a debt . I want to sell house & clear this but he will not. Can I force him to sale via my divorce ?
Butts - 30-Mar-17 @ 12:05 PM
After some advice..husband & I have 2 children 3 & 1. His son from former relationship finishes a levels in June & is 19 later this year. My husband & I want to get our own place. We've sought legal advice & sent her 2 letters requesting that we open up negotiations to remove my husband from the mortgage. They were never married & split over 10 years ago. She's now refusing any contact & stating that she will not buy him out or sell the house until after their son leaves university at least & that our 2 letters are now causing him unnecessary stress. What can we do? We're trying to remain amicable but we're hitting brick walls here.
KVM - 10-Mar-17 @ 11:24 PM
Me and my ex split over 4 years ago, after she had an affair. She left the home which we shared, and both our names are on the mortgage. I stayed in the property and have kept up to the mortgage payments since. AShe is now wanting to sell the property without my consent. Can she do this? I do not want to give up my family home, please advise
swifty - 4-Mar-17 @ 11:01 AM
Hi my husband and I have decided to split the matrimonial house, however he does not have enough money to pay lump sum. Can this be paid monthly? Until x number of years?
Sop - 20-Feb-17 @ 3:41 PM
Shirley - Your Question:
Help please!! My partner and his ex split up over ten years ago where there was an order put on the matrimonial home when the kids were 18 that the house go up for sale and split between them. The youngest turned 18 last year and the house was put on the market for 10,000 less as the ex had devalued it with the amount of damage in there she also will not correspond with the estate agent with regards to viewings etc we are at our wits end and don't want to spend thousands in courts again to get her out!! We are banging our heads against a brick wall any suggestions very welcome tia

Our Response:
I'm afraid this is quite a common occurance, i.e, when the house is due to sell, the person due to sell it will stall and try to obstruct the sale. I can only suggest you get confirmation from the estate agents that your ex will not reply/return calls and any other evidence you can to prove she is breaching the court order. In the first instance, a solicitor's letter explaining the terms of the court order, the evidence you have and the repercussions if the matter goes to court, might do the trick in getting her to comply with the order. However, if she doesn't you will have to take the matter back to court for breach/contempt of court and to have the order enforced.
DivorceResource - 17-Feb-17 @ 2:23 PM
Hello, Me and my husband seperated after i found out he had commited adultry on at leaste 3 seperate occasions. We have a joint morgage which we only lived in together for about 2 months. I moved out and he has taken on the bills.i now live in rented accomodation. My husband has said he is seeking advice to take on the morgage himself, and has been telling me bits and bobs but no action has actualy been done. Its been nearly a year and a half and i feel stuck , ive been told if i try force sale i will end up bankrupt because the property has only been in our names a year and half so has made no 'equity' we have no savings as we both pay bills. I know i can see a solisitor and send forms with regards to force of sale but its the debt i will get it thats worring me. I work full time and have done nothing wrong. Help!
Jodie - 17-Feb-17 @ 7:30 AM
Help please!! My partner and his ex split up over ten years ago where there was an order put on the matrimonial home when the kids were 18 that the house go up for sale and split between them.The youngest turned 18 last year and the house was put on the market for 10,000 less as the ex had devalued it with the amount of damage in there she also will not correspond with the estate agent with regards to viewings etc we are at our wits end and don't want to spend thousands in courts again to get her out!! We are banging our heads against a brick wall any suggestions very welcome tia
Shirley - 16-Feb-17 @ 9:02 PM
My Ex and I have an uncompleted house and the court has ordered for the selling of it and proceeds shared equally. She initially offered to buy but couldn't. Now she pretends buying and resell to a third person at a higher price, though both have been asked to look for a buyer. Is it lawful?
Billy - 7-Feb-17 @ 6:55 AM
Hi,My wife left me a couple of years ago and divorced me. She has a charge on the property of £51k, it is valued at around £300k judging by similar properties in the area. I have a mortgage on it but was not able to borrow any more as I have. Reduced income since losing my job and retraining in a new profession. We have no children. I do want to repay her as I want to move on. However, I want to keep the house. My question is, can she force me to sell?
Doctordeej - 11-Jan-17 @ 5:36 PM
I separated from my wife of 8 years in Oct 2014, and moved out of the Family home. I agreed with her that until the divorce was finalised and child maintenance and spousal maintenance was confirmed, I would continue to pay the mortgage on the home as well as the home insurance (£1000 p/m). This arrangement stood for a year but then she decided to chase me for Child Maintenance too! This amounted to £445 p/m even though I informed CMS of me paying the mortgage - and after much wrangling, they applied a special variation and reduced it by about £100 8 months later. However, I simply was not able to afford the mortgage / insurance plus my own rent (I can only afford a one bed flat even though I have my son 40% of the time), bills and living expenses, PLUS the Child Maintenance. The home is in my name and the only way I was able to meet this obligation was to agree a reduction in my mortgage payments on the family home, resulting in arrears building up and my credit score falling off a cliff. The Ex has refused to accept that me paying the mortgage should have been enough (if I was to pay child maintenance and spousal maintenance alone then it would be around £700 p/m) and doesn't care about the impact of her actions to chase me for child support - i.e. I now will not be able to get a mortgage for years. The 3rd and final divorce hearing is in Feb '17, where the judge will order the sale of the house and decide on the equity split. However, even though I should get enough for a deposit on a 2 bed place, I will not be able to buy anywhere until my credit score has recovered which will take years. The mortgage company have refused to continue to payment reductions and are now demanding I come up with a plan to pay off the arrears - even though I told them I will have clarity in 5 weeks after the final financial settlement hearing. They want me to reduce payments of my non-secured debts even though this will impact my credit score further. I'm hoping the judge will demand that the Ex pays towards the arrears whilst the house is sold but it just feels like I cannot rely on anything as the whole system is geared to screw people like me over royally. I hate it when men don't take responsibility for their kids but if a woman is spiteful / greedy enough, a man can get screwed financially for years and the court system, CMS and financial institutions do not protect them. Any advise, or thoughts would be welcome..
Frazzled - 5-Jan-17 @ 9:35 AM
At a loss - Your Question:
I have decided to end things with my husband of 10 years. Irreconcilable differences. we discussed things and we gave it another go, but I still felt the same 3 months later and then found out he had been seeing someone else for 3 years and is still with that person. We have 2 children and he chooses not to work and I have had to support him for a couple of years now. We rent a home and I want the children and I to move on with our lives and have him move out, but he refuses to leave saying once he sorts himself out he will leave, but has not made an effort to get a job or any kind and his significant other seems to give him some financial support, but she is also married with children. He is draining my finances and affecting my ability to save for my childrens future. Is there anything I can do to force him to leave? His family lives nearby and he refuses to stay with them. Any help or direction would be very much appreciated. Thank you

Our Response:
It is a tricky question, as if one spouse refuses to leave, there is little you can do, unless you decide to take the matter to court. You can see more via the CAB link here.
DivorceResource - 20-Dec-16 @ 11:42 AM
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