What Can You Do If Your Ex-Spouse Delays the Sale of Your House?

What Can You Do if Your Ex-Spouse Delays the Sale of Your House? | CA Law

Often a house is the largest asset any couple will ever own together. Whenever a couple decides to split up, the value that each individual holds in the house can be instrumental to making a fresh start. If you own a house with your ex-spouse in California, what are you entitled to? If your ex-spouse delays in selling it, what can you do?

First some background

California is a community property state. So all of the money earned by either person during marriage belongs equally to each of you, unless you agreed differently in writing before marriage. When you buy a house with earnings accumulated during the marriage, it is community property. You and your ex-spouse own it equally. If you divorce, your house will be divided equally between you. If your house has increased in value over the years, you and your ex-spouse will each be entitled to 50% of its increased value. Even if you believe you own a house that is completely your separate property, your ex might be entitled to a significant portion of its value.

Oftentimes when a couple divorces, one person buys out the interest of their ex-spouse and takes over the mortgage through a refinance. If a couple cannot agree on what to do with the house, however, a judge will decide after hearing arguments from each individual. Usually, the judge will order the sale of the house and splitting the sale proceeds.

When one partner does not want to sell but there is an order to do so

Once the court has ordered the sale of their house, the couple must make the important decisions. These include getting a real estate agent, whether to make improvements, and when to sell. There may even be an order that one individual can live in the house until it is sold. Needless to say, it is best if the former couple cooperates in making these decisions. Sometimes, however, one person will drag their feet.

If your ex-spouse delays the sale of your house, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. You may need to go back to court several times to get your ex-spouse to comply with the court’s order to sell. This can take months. In the end, however, your stalling ex-spouse will most probably need to pay all attorney fees, including yours. If there is a drop in value due to the stalling party’s conduct between the original court order and the sale of the house, your ex will need to make up the difference.

What if you are not married?

If you are not married and own a property together with your ex-partner, you can go to court and file a partition lawsuit to force the division of the property. A court-ordered sale is normally the result.


If you are getting divorced and want to better understand your legal and financial rights to your house or other community property, please contact us. Marissa Major and Hillary Warren of Warren Major LLC are Marin County family law attorneys, specializing in divorce, child custody and support, marital contracts and other family law issues. If you are looking for honest, expert legal advice, please contact our office for a consultation

Disclaimer: Warren Major LLP’s blog articles on its website for informational purposes only. The information contained herein may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Warren Major LLP or the individual author. This general information is not a substitute for legal advice on any subject matter. For advice pertaining to your specific case, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this article without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Using this information or sending electronic mail to Warren Major LLP or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements pertaining to past results do not guarantee future results.