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Selling the Jointly Owned Home

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 18 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Separation Divorce Property Deed

When you divorce or separate, one of the hardest decisions to make is what to do with your home. It’s your biggest asset, especially as house prices continue to rise, but it also has a history for you both, and may represent and ideal place to continue living for one of you. So what are your options?

The Basics

You should always seek qualified legal advice on these matters, but in a nutshell, of you’re married, in a civil partnership or living together and own the home jointly, your partner cannot sell it without your permission.

Even if your partner is the sole owner, if you’re married or in a civil partnership, your partner still can’t sell the home without your permission (this does not apply if you’re simply living together).

In other words, you do at least have a safety net – in most instances you can’t be simply thrown out on the street. However, be aware that if you’re just living together with your partner as the sole owner, and you have no agreement in writing to show you have a financial interest in the property, then you have very little legal status, and even in court you’re unlikely to see any proceeds from a sale.

Staying In The House

It’s not uncommon in a divorce for one partner to buy out the other and stay in the family home. Make sure there’s an independent valuation on the property to ensure a fair price is set. Of course, much of this is dependent on you or your partner being able to obtain a mortgage for the appropriate amount.

If Your Partner Refuses Permission

If you want to sell and your partner doesn’t (or vice versa), one person can begin an action of division and sale in court. However, the other party can petition the court to a division of the proceeds, or to buy the place at a market price or one decided by the court.

In the case of one person being the owner of the property and the other withholding permission to sell, then the courts can allow the sale under certain circumstances. In essence, these are if one party is unable to sign for medical reasons, if one party has vanished and can’t be found, or if the court believes that permission in being unreasonably withheld.

It can also attach conditions to the sale, such as setting a date by which any sale has to be completed, or a minimum selling price.

How Much Can You Expect?

Obviously, it’s impossible to put a figure on how much you’ll receive. But a sale doesn’t mean you’ll split the proceeds 50-50. It all depends on what you agreed when you bought the place, whether one or other of you has put a lot into the property, how the deed reads, and if you can come to an agreement, either between yourselves or through solicitors, when you break up.

If you can’t come to an agreement, the court will decide for you, taking several factors into account. If you’re married, then it will depend on who paid part of the deposit, whether one or other of you has really been making the mortgage payments, who will be looking after any children, the income of each partner, and what other resources either of you might possess.

The court can also decide, if one of you is raising children from the marriage, that that person can remain in the property with the children until they’re of age, or even without children, that one person can remain in the property and pay rent to the other party.

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Blue - Your Question:
My son and girlfriend bought a house of which gifted them £6000 for the deposit. After 6 months she left, and has contributed nothing towards the costs. Upto then she had contributed one third due to her low income. At separation it was agreed he would pay her £3000 for her grandparents gift for furnishings. The equity in the property has now reached £20000 on the property and now wants half. With cost of sale the equity would be £11000 and she would be entitled to half apparently. We have offered her £5500 and she has refused, obviously wanting half the proceeds and my son losing the house into the bargain out of spite. Is she entitled to do this or do we have any other recourse

Our Response:
You should try mediation and then the courts to get this resolved. The courts will look at all the circumstances and will consider how much each party has contributed etc.
RecentlySeparated - 19-Sep-17 @ 2:03 PM
My son and girlfriend bought a house of which gifted them £6000 for the deposit. After 6 months she left, and has contributed nothing towards the costs. Upto then she had contributed one third due to her low income. At separation it was agreed he would pay her £3000 for her grandparents gift for furnishings. The equity in the property has now reached £20000 on the property and now wants half. With cost of sale the equity would be £11000 and she would be entitled to half apparently. We have offered her £5500 and she has refused, obviously wanting half the proceeds and my son losing the house into the bargain out of spite. Is she entitled to do this or do we have any other recourse
Blue - 18-Sep-17 @ 12:10 PM
ki - Your Question:
Recently split with partner of 10 years. We have 2 children (2 and 7) and a house we bought 2 and a half years ago. He wants to sell the house where as I want to stay because it's near school and I work from home while looking after our toddler full-time. I can't have the mortgage only in my name because I am self employed (just over 2 years) and don't make enough yet to have the mortgage just in my name. Can I have a guarantor so I can have the mortgage in just my name until I get my books up? Or is there a law where he has to stay on the mortgage until the kids are 18 but I pay the mortgage and bills etc. he just pays maintenance for the kids?Also the police are involved because he has made threats to kill me if I leave him because he still wants to be with me even though he cheats all the time (he openly admits and I have proof), he has sent videos of me breastfeeding our son to a women in a sexual way, and he verbally abuses me daily in-front of our children. He also keeps following me and trying to get in the house. The police told me to change the locks so I have and now he keeps jumping the garden wall to try and get in incase the backdoor is unlocked if the kids are playing in the garden. I want a peaceful split but he wants a fight. I still want him in his kids life as-long as he doesn't tell them anything to hurt them and he can be a good Da to them. I'm worried he can take the house. HELP

Our Response:
You need to get an independent third party to arbitrate and help you to negotiate an agreement for financial arrangements and contact with the children. You can find a list of mediation services here. If that is unsuccessful, you may have to resort to the courts.
RecentlySeparated - 18-Sep-17 @ 10:21 AM
Recently split with partner of 10 years. We have 2 children (2 and 7) and a house we bought 2 and a half years ago. He wants to sell the house where as I want to stay because it's near school and I work from home while looking after our toddler full-time. I can't have the mortgage only in my name because I am self employed (just over 2 years) and don't make enough yet to have the mortgage just in my name. Can I have a guarantor so I can have the mortgage in just my name until I get my books up? Or is there a law where he has to stay on the mortgage until the kids are 18 but I pay the mortgage and bills etc... he just pays maintenance for the kids? Also the police are involved because he has made threats to kill me if I leave him because he still wants to be with me even though he cheats all the time (he openly admits and I have proof), he has sent videos of me breastfeeding our son to a women in a sexual way, and he verbally abuses me daily in-front of our children. He also keeps following me and trying to get in the house. The police told me to change the locks so I have and now he keeps jumping the garden wall to try and get in incase the backdoor is unlocked if the kids are playing in the garden. I want a peaceful split but he wants a fight. I still want him in his kids life as-long as he doesn't tell them anything to hurt them and he can be a good Da to them. I'm worried he can take the house.. HELP
ki - 14-Sep-17 @ 12:04 PM
I bought a house with an ex 10 years ago, he left after 7 months and has paid nothing since, he also took out a joint loan of 30k which he also walked away from and I have maintained the payments. I have tried for years to get him to hand the house over but he has been obstructive and unwilling.I decided to take this to court myself as I cannot afford any more legal fees. although I have a very good chance of winning at court, I am scared of him being entitled to half my house (we all know the law sucks at times) I have made him an offer which I can live with and this should be accepted this week. I will pay him the money then sell my house and move on with my live. my question is: as he is relinquishing all interest in the property for the money I am going to pay him, does that mean when I sell I don't need him to sign anything? I do not want to be in a situation where I pay him out then when I come to complete he messes up my sale by not responding, anyone know the answer?
lucky - 29-Aug-17 @ 3:26 PM
my daughter left her boyfriend 7 years ago and their child lives with her. They had bought a house thanks to her deposit and now she would like to sell this house so that she could buy an other one giving a good stability to her son who is on the autism spectrum. Unfortunatly he refuses. What can she do ?
andre - 27-Aug-17 @ 8:31 AM
Hi Court hasn't been involved. My husband finally agreed to put house up for sale after several requests by me via solicitors because he couldn't afford mortgage payments and I couldn't afford to contribute having rent & other costs for children to cover. House sold and proceeds of sale have been held in trust until such times a settlement agreement can be reached. But my husband wants more than an equal share and because I refuse to agree to that, he has told me the money will remain tied up until I agree to giving him a larger sgare of proceeds. Obviously this is unfair and I don't want to back down - what can I do if he won't agree to settlement agreement (which I've proposed an equal share of proceeds).
Witsend - 23-Aug-17 @ 2:39 AM
Witsend - Your Question:
Husband refused to move out of family home, so I felt forced to move and rent with our 3 children - relationship was toxic.It took 2 years of me paying a solicitor to have him agree to sell house - which he had racked up thousands on arrears and we were being threatened with reposessionSale went through couple months ago and even though I paid the large deposit for property from proceeds of sale of my own home prior to marriage, I have tried to get him to settle with an equal split of these proceeds of sale.Because he was in property prior to sale he won't agree to equal split, he wants to recoup mortgage payments he made. Plus he wants money to pay family back that was gifted to him during our Marriage, dayingbthis was debt to repay.I'm sitting with debts I need to pay and I have money sitting in trust from proceeds of sale but because he won't agree on my fair settlement agreement, the funds won't be released to either party.I've paid thousands in legal costs to get to this stage - is there any way I can force the release of funds?If I raise court action I do have a special circumstances argument over the deposit I paid for this property but to take that to court will cost more that what we are arguing over!

Our Response:
Did the courts insist on sale of the house as part of a divorce settlement? If so, did they suggest any proceeds would be split equally between you? Sorry that's not been made clear.
RecentlySeparated - 22-Aug-17 @ 10:40 AM
Matt - Your Question:
Hi my wife walked out of our family home 5weejs ago leaving me and my 17 year old daughter. My daughter has a full two years left in education. My wife is saying that I have to sell the house. And we want to stay. What can I do

Our Response:
Unfortunately there are no set "rules" over who can remain in a property in the event of separation etc. However, if you want to give your daughter stability in the familiarity of her home, you should first consider mediation to help draw up an agreement. If this does not resolve things, you may have to apply to the courts to settle the issue.
RecentlySeparated - 21-Aug-17 @ 11:04 AM
Husband refused to move out of family home, so I felt forced to move and rent with our 3 children - relationship was toxic. It took 2 years of me paying a solicitor to have him agree to sell house - which he had racked up thousands on arrears and we were being threatened with reposession Sale went through couple months ago and even though I paid the large deposit for property from proceeds of sale of my own home prior to marriage, I have tried to get him to settle with an equal split of these proceeds of sale. Because he was in property prior to sale he won't agree to equal split, he wants to recoup mortgage payments he made. Plus he wants money to pay family back that was gifted to him during our Marriage, dayingbthis was debt to repay. I'm sitting with debts I need to pay and I have money sitting in trust from proceeds of sale but because he won't agree on my fair settlement agreement, the funds won't be released to either party. I've paid thousands in legal costs to get to this stage - is there any way I can force the release of funds? If I raise court action I do have a special circumstances argument over the deposit I paid for this property but to take that to court will cost more that what we are arguing over!
Witsend - 19-Aug-17 @ 9:46 AM
Hi my wife walked out of our family home 5weejs ago leaving me and my 17 year old daughter. My daughter has a full two years left in education. My wife is saying that I have to sell the house. And we want to stay. What can I do
Matt - 17-Aug-17 @ 11:36 AM
Bella - Your Question:
Hi my husband left me 6wks ago of his on accord. My sole name on title deeds. He wants money back from me for home improvementso he paid for. Only been married 2yrs. Please help

Our Response:
What did he pay for? Does he have details? Receipts? After only two years it seems unlikely this could amount to much unless you had a home extension and you didn't contribute toward it at all etc. Unfortunately you may have seek legal advice or see whether your ex is willing to take court action over it and then contest it there.
RecentlySeparated - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:25 PM
Hi my husband left me 6wks ago of his on accord. My sole name on title deeds. He wants money back from me for home improvementso he paid for. Only been married 2yrs. Please help
Bella - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:42 PM
Jen - Your Question:
Me and my ex split 9 yrs ago, we have a joint mortgage still as I couldn't afford to pay him off he has never made a payment towards the mortgage or towards our 2 children. He declared himself bankrupt in 2015 and his creditors are after a forced sale of my house where his children live. I have come to an arrangement with the creditors for a lump sum and they will give me his beneficial share of the house. What I need to know is can he run up debts again on my house and will he still need to sign if I sell later on even though he he'll have no beneficial interest in the house?thanks

Our Response:
If his name is still on the deeds we assume he can - but you should really try and seek some professional advice on this. Most solicitors offer a first half hour consulation free of charge.
RecentlySeparated - 16-Jun-17 @ 10:46 AM
Me and my ex split 9 yrs ago, we have a joint mortgage still as I couldn't afford to pay him off he has never made a payment towards the mortgage or towards our 2 children.He declared himself bankrupt in 2015 and his creditors are after a forced sale of my house where his children live.I have come to an arrangement with the creditors for a lump sum and they will give me his beneficial share of the house.What I need to know is can he run up debts again on my house and will he still need to sign if I sell later on even though he he'll have no beneficial interest in the house? thanks
Jen - 13-Jun-17 @ 3:42 PM
Hi currently have a joint mortgage with my partner but we have split up and she is engaged to someone else. She paid the £15000 deposit but during the last three years I was left money from a family member who died of £30000 and I used that to pay off the mortgage. My question is that when we sell are we both entitled to a 50/50 split. The reason I ask is she seems to think I am not entitled to any part of her £15000 deposit but she is entitled to half of the £30000 I used to pay off the mortgage? I am man quite happy to split everything 50/50 but she seems to think she is entitled to more than me, is she correct? Thanks for your help.
Jointmortagehelp - 31-May-17 @ 2:01 PM
My ex partner met someone else, left the family home with our 2 children almost 8 months ago. I've had enough of receiving threats of violence from her & said partner so I've decided to sell up (she agreed to this) she signed all the conveyancing papers and not when its come to the final few forms she's refusing to play ball. I payed ALL the £10,000 deposit, and every morrgage payment and bill the time we have lived here. I've said that I'm willing to split the proceedings with her but want the payments I've made since she left on my share. The problems started when she assumed that it wasn't fair She had to pay half the solicitors & agency fees (even though it would come out of the proceedings and not her pocket) She does not want to live at the property and expressed a desire to sell for a while until now obviously. What can i do to make sure this sale gets completed as she is purely doing this to make my life as difficult as possible and for me. ANY advice would be welcome as I feel stuck at the moment.
Abu - 30-May-17 @ 8:42 PM
Twizzle - Your Question:
My in laws jointly own a property unfortunately my father in law has dementia, has no mental capacity and is in a care home. My mother on law needs to sell the house as its too big and expensive to run on her own. Can she sell without additional legal fees as father in law no longer has mental capacity? What additional hoops are there to go through if any? Thanks in anticipation.

Our Response:
What additional legal fees? Sorry it's not clear what you're asking. Your mother in law should apply for power of attorney so she can make decisions on your father in law's behalf.
RecentlySeparated - 30-May-17 @ 11:11 AM
My in laws jointly own a property unfortunately my father in law has dementia, has no mental capacity and is in a care home. My mother on law needs to sell the house as its too big and expensive to run on her own. Can she sell without additional legal fees as father in law no longer has mental capacity? What additional hoops are there to go through if any? Thanks in anticipation.
Twizzle - 27-May-17 @ 11:57 AM
Yax - Your Question:
Hi. my wife left 7 years ago and I kept house in our joint name. my daughter stays 2/3 nights a week. and I also give my ex money each week. we got the house at a reduced rate of 20g from her family member. we want to sell the house now but she wants 20g from the profit and half of the remaining profit. is this fare seeing as ive payed the mortgage for 7 years. and there was no agreement that she would get extra when we bought house. Thanks in advance

Our Response:
We can't really comment anything as individual as this. It's probably better to seek mediation or to ask a judge to decide in a court.
RecentlySeparated - 18-May-17 @ 2:36 PM
Hi.I split with my boyfriend 2years ago.I stay in house as we have a daughter as i havent where to go.we bought this house together 5years ago.in january i finally move from there and i found flat to rent as it was be horrible be together under one roof as he didnt want to move away.now i pay lots of money for rent and he still live there for free as he renting out rooms.my problem is....i dont know what to do as he dont want sell house at all and as well he cant remorgtgage this house as his income is low so he doesnt have money how to pay me out.how it will works when i will take him to court?and how it will all takes?thank you for help...x
Michaela - 17-May-17 @ 8:45 PM
Hi.. my wife left 7 years ago and i kept house in our joint name.. my daughter stays 2/3 nights a week.. and i also give my ex money each week.. we got the house at a reduced rate of 20g from her family member.. we want to sell the house now but she wants 20g from the profit and half of the remaining profit.. is this fare seeing as ive payed the mortgage for 7 years.. and there was no agreement that she would get extra when we bought house. Thanks in advance
Yax - 17-May-17 @ 6:48 PM
T - Your Question:
My wife left me and my 3 boys and took off to America to live with a guy she met online. I have only just received a letter from her this year saying she doesn't want anything to do with the house or finances si that I can sell the house. We don't hear from her and she doesn't contact us and thus has been hard work. Now I've come to sell the house and the solicitor is telling me that she will need to sign a TR1 (transfer off the deed) but she's already clearly said she wants to come off the deed in the notarized letter I have. It's so much red tape and jumping through hoops and everything might crumble as she isn't responding to email (only don't act I have) and after 6 years of trying to make progress and look after the boys, I am so tired of hitting brick walls. Surely there is a process that will support me or I can get an emergency hearing in front if a judge. The house could be sold in the next two weeks if I can find a way to move this forward. Thank you for any input. It is needed. There has to be a positive way forward.

Our Response:
Get back on to your solicitor about this, surely if your ex is not responding to communication and has agreed to a house sale on paper the courts can enforce the issue?
RecentlySeparated - 15-May-17 @ 1:54 PM
My wife left me and my 3 boys and took off to America to live with a guy she met online. I have only just received a letter from her this year saying she doesn't want anything to do with the house or finances si that I can sell the house. We don't hear from her and she doesn't contact us and thus has been hard work. Now I've come to sell the house and the solicitor is telling me that she will need to sign a TR1 (transfer off the deed) but she's already clearly said she wants to come off the deed in the notarized letter I have. It's so much red tape and jumping through hoops and everything might crumble as she isn't responding to email (only don't act I have) and after 6 years of trying to make progress and look after the boys, I am so tired of hitting brick walls. Surely there is a process that will support me or I can get an emergency hearing in front if a judge. The house could be sold in the next two weeks if I can find a way to move this forward. Thank you for any input. It is needed. There has to be a positive way forward.
T - 12-May-17 @ 5:01 AM
Me, my daddy, my ex brought a home a one years ago in California. We are divorce 02/17. The house was on the market my ex took it off after 30days. Me & my daddy want to sell the house and move on. We have 2 kids in the house.we still live in the same house. I feel unsafe with him in the home... it was an abusive marriage..what are my options?? Please help I'm going crazy...
Ali - 30-Apr-17 @ 6:14 AM
Me and my ex partner bought a flat 12 years ago, after 3 years we split up and forcing me to leave the family home and go back to Scotland, I thought no more of it untill I just received paper work for the sale of the house that I have to sign? Saying i am on the deeds and nothing can be done without my signature, should I be entitled to some cash from the sale of the house?
Niks - 24-Apr-17 @ 12:43 AM
Hi. I have recently moved out of our married home that we have owned jointly for 12 years. My wife and 3 children still live there who are all above 16. I am now in rented accommodation. I dont really want my wife to sell the house which she plans to do asap. I cant afford to buy her out. Id like to keep ownership for a few years as property is increasing. Can i block her selling ? Thanks Pauly
Pauly - 20-Apr-17 @ 4:58 PM
Hassu - Your Question:
Hi I have a roperyy in joint names. Me n my ex divorce in 2014 I.i have been paying the mortgage since 2011. We have a agreement that when I sell the house he gets 20% he left the country in 2015. And is living there now he has got married. We have 3 children wich I have been looking after He has paid no maintenace since 2015. Or any other finace matters I have had repairs do e to the property. N paid for it myself. Just wondering if I still owe him the whole 20%

Our Response:
If this was part of the agreement you should really comply with it. The lack of maintenance payments should be dealt with separately. A court might be able to alter these arrangements or order him to pay?
RecentlySeparated - 19-Apr-17 @ 2:10 PM
Hi i have a roperyy in joint names. Me n my ex divorce in 2014 i .i have been paying the mortgage since 2011 . We have a agreement that when i sell the house he gets 20%he left the country in 2015.And is livingthere now he has got married. We have 3 children wich i have been looking after He has paid no maintenace since 2015. Or any other finace mattersi have had repairs do e to the property.N paid for it myself. Just wondering if i still owe him the whole 20%
Hassu - 17-Apr-17 @ 10:42 AM
My mum & step-father are going through a divorce proceedings and they own a house together - he currently lives in it. It has been on the market for over 2 years and they have just received an offer which is lower than the valuation but my mum is happy to accept but step-father is not. Where does she stand on this because with it being on the market for so long with no interest it is unlikely they will receive another offer anytime soon - let alone an offer he is willing to accept. There is no children involved so should be a straight forward 50/50 divorce but he is trying to halt things at every turn - do she just have to wait until an offer comes through he will accept (he wants the top end valuation)
BethB - 13-Apr-17 @ 1:24 PM
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Latest Comments
  • RecentlySeparated
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Blue - Your Question:My son and girlfriend bought a house of which gifted them £6000 for the deposit. After 6 months she left,…
    19 September 2017
  • Blue
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    My son and girlfriend bought a house of which gifted them £6000 for the deposit. After 6 months she left, and has contributed…
    18 September 2017
  • RecentlySeparated
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    ki - Your Question:Recently split with partner of 10 years. We have 2 children (2 and 7) and a house we bought 2 and a half…
    18 September 2017
  • lucky
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    I bought a house with an ex 10 years ago, he left after 7 months and has paid nothing since, he also took out a joint loan of…
    29 August 2017
  • andre
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    my daughter left her boyfriend 7 years ago and their child lives with her. They had bought a house thanks to her deposit and now…
    27 August 2017
  • Witsend
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi Court hasn't been involved. My husband finally agreed to put house up for sale after several requests by me via solicitors…
    23 August 2017
  • RecentlySeparated
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Witsend - Your Question:Husband refused to move out of family home, so I felt forced to move and rent with our 3 children -…
    22 August 2017
  • BlackJack
    Re: How Financial Planning Can Help For the Future
    I'm really surprised how sites, including this, when describing situations -in articles, etc- almost always…
    21 August 2017
  • RecentlySeparated
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Matt - Your Question:Hi my wife walked out of our family home 5weejs ago leaving me and my 17 year old daughter. My daughter has…
    21 August 2017
  • Witsend
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Husband refused to move out of family home, so I felt forced to move and rent with our 3 children - relationship was toxic. It…
    19 August 2017
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