Sell a House During Divorce in Houston
Posted on May 11, 2022 by Amanda Gladin
Can you sell a house during divorce in Houston? Yes, but both parties have to be on the same page if the divorce is not final. This is helpful only when the parties can be amicable, otherwise you’ll be at the mercy of whatever the final divorce decree states, which at a minimum could take months.
I’ll tell you about a situation in which even with the divorce final, without the right information being in that final document, you can be in a world of problems. Best to make sure the decree is written to where even a 5 year old could follow the instructions.
For example, this is not the first time something like this situation has happened and it will not be the last. In this particular case, the house was awarded to the wife in April 2020, which as most remember was the beginning of the lockdowns for the Covid Pandemic.
Needless to say, the ex husband stayed in the house until the wife was able to get a writ of possession in April of 2022. The problem was totally avoidable, had the date and time the x-husband had to move out had been in the final decree. Sadly, it wasn’t. Divorce decree didn’t have a date – lesson: make sure details are clear (lol)
The drama associated with this particular situation was one for the history books. However I’m sharing this story to help make sure this type of thing never happens again. Here is just a brief snippet of all the things that went wrong in this scenario.
Sell a House after Divorce, the story
As I mentioned earlier, the husband was living in the house at the time of the divorce and even though she was awarded the house, she had to take him back to court for contempt, due to the date and time never making it into her divorce decree. To read more about squatters check out this post.
This particular house flooded back during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The house was never even finished. So he was squatting in this home, with no kitchen – no cabinets, counters, sink to do dishes, nothing. Upstairs was fine after the flood, but everything downstairs had only been resheetrocked, painted, and flooring installed.
Moratorium on evictions
The seller not only had to deal with the divorce and all that entailed, but Covid caused a moratorium on evictions that allowed him to continue to live there while she continued to have to pay for the house. A moratorium that assisted tenants with the ability to stay in their place of residence while the lockdown was happening, without having to pay rent. This helped a lot of tenants stay in their homes when many lost their jobs or income. Unfortunately, the seller’s X in this situation, took advantage of a bad situation, causing a need to go back to court for contempt, instead of just evicting him.
Once we gained access to the house after the contempt of court case granted her the writ of possession. We found he had trashed the house. Gnats everywhere. Trashbags full of normal kitchen trash throughout the house. Dishes with food left over in every room. No running water – I’ll let you figure out what that looked like. There ended up being two 40 yard dumpsters worth of trash in the house, not to mention the 3 days of scrubbing that had to be done by a crew of people.
What happens to a house in divorce?
There can be many ways to sell a house during divorce in Houston. If both parties agree to the sale prior to the divorce being finalized, honestly is the best possible outcome. However, both parties have to agree on not just the sale, but the price they are willing to sell for, are they willing to contribute to repairs as necessary, as well as any other particulars they feel need to take into consideration.
Say for instance, the wife is the one living in the home while it is being sold, is she willing to keep the house clean, allow flexibility for showings, or be able to move out when the buyers are ready to close.
There is so much that goes into selling a house, let alone having to sell one while in the midst of a divorce. Lets face it, it is in the top 5 most stressful events that people have in their lives. Couple that with divorce, and you have 2 of the most stressful events all at one time.
Selling a house after divorce
Although the divorce will need to be final, some may feel it is easier to sell after a divorce rather than sell a house during divorce in Houston. Depending on what happens in the final order for divorce, will determine if you’ll still be dealing with the other party.
Let’s say the decision has already been made to sell the house: either ordered by the court or whomever was awarded the house wants to sell. Here’s what you need to know.
If ordered by the court
Make sure you have all your bases covered in this aspect as well. You don’t want to have issues selling due to communication problems. Problems can arise if a house is being sold by two people that are fighting, let alone if one is trying to sabotage the sale. Don’t think this can’t happen to you…it is a common misconception, that you’ll figure out when you really don’t want it to.
If communication is not the best
I would suggest having a specific dollar figure input into the divorce decree, so that only one person has to sign to accept the offer. Usually, the party that is to receive the money, is not the party selling the house. It allows the party selling the ability to make the decision and move forward, rather than having the other party object, because they are already guaranteed a specified amount of money.
If awarded the house
This party can sell without the other party even being involved. As being awarded the house, makes it your property solely. If you are awarded the house in the final order, and the other party is still in the property. Please make sure that a specified date and time is notated in the documents to allow you to take possession without having to go through the eviction process, if they choose not to leave. Leaving you stuck with a squatting X.
When your ex refuses to leave
A court will need to get involved if there was not a specific date and time the X had to be out. The order will be called a Writ of Possession, which basically means that you can have the police escort you to the house and ultimately throw them out.
If police were needed to remove them from the property, their stuff would be placed on the curb and the house would need to be secured by you. Securing the house could mean many things, but changing the locks would be the first step. Covering broken windows with plywood, if necessary.
Ex Refuses to Sign the Deed
If you are awarded the house in the divorce, there needs to be a deed from the other party to you. This keeps everything clean and can be a part of the final divorce decree. If you think it will be a problem getting them to sign it, have it signed at the time in which the final divorce papers are signed.
Otherwise, this can cause a delay when selling the house. A certified copy of the divorce decree would need to be filed with the title company you are closing with, in lieu of the deed. It would make your divorce decree part of real property public records. This is not the end of the world. It is a pain to have to go downtown and request this certified copy and wait for it to get done before you can leave. Easier to take care of with the divorce papers if you ask me.
I’m sure all of this comes off as very stressful if you’re even considering divorce, but sometimes it’s better to know the worst case scenarios, and address them before they are even an issue.
So if you would rather have someone that would be happy to mediate between the two of you so you can sell a house during divorce in Houston, before the divorce is final. Give us a call, we would be happy to help.