Handling Uncooperative Spouses During a Home Sale During their Divorce

A partner may be resentful and disappointed in losing control during the divorce.

He or she may try all possible means to thwart the effort of putting the house up for sale. If your ex-partner is not in agreement with you, they can go a long way in foiling your plans.

Even if your ex has agreed on putting the home up for sale, he or she may not want to vacate the home any soon, which will make it tough for prospective buyers to inspect, and striking a deal becomes almost impossible. Other similar situations may arise where you will require the full cooperation of your ex for things to go smoothly.

At this crossroads, it is reasonable to employ the services of professionals who can pacify the situation. After all, the main motive for having an attorney and real estate agents is for situations like this.

Mediators are appointed by the court to stand in the gap for divorced spouses in selling their homes. What most of these mediators do is give mutual respect to both parties, which will help in resolving volatile conflicts.

When handling a case that is selling a home for divorced spouses, it is expedient to accept each party’s grievances and give listening ears to them so that any deadlocks could be broken.

When a compromise cannot be reached, it is essential to involve a third party in handling this situation. There will be need to employ professional experts if you find it difficult in gaining cooperation from your ex.

There are numerous ways your divorced partner can thwart your effort when it comes to selling a home. Below are some, and the possible ways of handling them.

The “I am not selling syndrome.”

You can make the decision of selling your property without your spouse consenting. Your listing based on this requires just a signature on the agreement, which will be accepted by some real estate agents.

But the signatures of persons whose names are on the grant deed will be needed when it is time to accept the offer, so the deal will not be struck if the name of your ex, who has refused to sign, is on the deed. This is the main reason most real estate professionals will not accept a listing that involves both spouses and only the signature of one of them.

This is not advisable for anyone to do because it leads to disappointments. If there is no cooperation between both parties from the start, then agreeing at the end might be impossible.

Here, both parties are aware that the sale of the house cannot be closed if there is no agreement between them. In such cases, it will be a monstrous task trying to market and stage. Even after a buyer is found, you will discover that the sale cannot be completed.

This shows how essential it is to know the names written on any document that relates to the house as early as possible.

Most house owners make assumptions about the names but get sometimes surprised at what they see after going through the house documents.

There is a loan agreement and a trust deed that offers the home as a collateral apart from the parties involved with the sale of the house. The name of owner(s) is identified by a grant deed.

So if only one name appears on the deed, it means that only such person has the right to transfer title through a sale, except the court has power over the assets.

But if the names of both spouses appear, then transferring of title without both signatures will be impossible and there will be changes when there is an intervention by the court.

The judge might make a decision that is not favorable to one party, but then the other party will also not be able to throw a stone without any intervention from the court.

Not Willing to Sign

You and your ex may have agreed to sell a house, but when it is time for the documents to be signed, your ex may bluntly refuse. It is a moment of truth when the genuine feelings of your ex-spouse emerge.

He or she might not want you to move on with your life, and try to hold on to the home because it represents security, which is the reason for the sluggish attitude towards signing the papers.

This could occur at the listing agreement stage, which is the first thing to do in the selling process.

It can also take place when there is an offer, and there is a readiness to sign a deal, which could have a negative impact for a very long time.

The reason is, offers are likely to expire in a couple of days. Apart from these, it can occur at any point in time, but gets really bad when a contract is on, and the settlement papers await signature.

In such case, everyone involved is affected, with the loan officers, title officers, buyer, his or her agent and yours inclusive.

It will be uncalled for them to go through this without a firm commitment from all involved. Should your ex not show up at the last minute, then your real estate agent can persuade the customer to make the settlement time longer, while you try to make things work.

The method used by the ex-partner may not prevail if the sale of the house is ordered by the court. Spouses who don’t adhere to the orders of the court might be cited for contempt.

In cases like this, it is important for your spouse’s attorney to come in and talk them into believing that the need for cooperation is for their own good. But if this doesn’t work, then those not cooperating might be fighting a lost battle.

The intervention of the court may be requested for by the opposing attorney in an ex’s motion. The implication of this is that if it happens, it will then be signed by the court clerk on the behalf of the party not present, and sales can continue.

In playing the part of a court appointee, even without a party’s signature, sales can be completed. This shows how complete the jurisdiction of the court is, which is figured out by most people when it’s too late.

Too Busy to be Present

This is another big obstacle that may arise when divorced spouses try to put their home on sale. A spouse stops being present and ends communication, especially during crucial times.

Examples of such moments are times that the settlement documents await their signatures. The reason behind such attitude could be depression, despair, fear or revenge.

Whatever reason it could be, it makes it really difficult for things to go well.

Persistence and staying calm can help to outdo challenges like this, but these might not be enough if there are set times looming. For example, the date a loan approval will expire or the date of the close-of-escrow.

Not Ready to Leave

At times, a spouse may not want to leave the house. In such cases, one party may let the other stay to show a sign of sympathy to make the arrangement go smoothly.

The court may firmly make an order for eviction in such situations, which can be a very cruel and quick process.

The proceedings of eviction that happen between a landlord and his tenant need different formal processes, which may allow for tenants to stay in the house for a couple of weeks or even months.

But this is not the same if a family court orders eviction of a spouse.

The spouse could adhere to the order given by the court by going to the property with a police officer and can put a different lock to prevent the other from entering the house.

This can happen even before selling the house when the other party delays the selling process, which means defying the order given by the court.

What this teaches is that whatever it takes for the court to implement, its decisions will be done. So ignoring the court’s order will do more harm than good.

Not Willing to Render Any Form of Assistance

Most times, there are other little assignments involved in any separation or divorce, even though the most difficult ones have been settled.

If your ex-spouse is not willing to render any form of assistance he/she will make it very difficult for you to have a peaceful life.

 Such a case can be as bad as not wanting to give back the extra car keys or even something worse. Such issues show up just when you think the struggle is over.

There is documentation required when requesting for a loan. Most importantly there are unpredicted responsibilities such as paying for mortgage or child support. In such cases, you will perhaps have to request 12 months of bank statements from your ex to enable you to have proper documentation of the financial relationship you had.

Assuming you are divorced, you are not removed from the mortgage, and your ex continues the payments, each party goes their separate ways, and then you get another mortgage.

If there is a divorce decree which states that the mortgage has been given to your ex, then proof will still be shown that there has been a continuous mortgage payment solely by your ex.

Why is this an issue? At this point, there is hatred between you two. Your ex will tell you “unfortunately, nothing will be yours, and I will not give you any details about my bank account.”

“Not even the papers are showing all my payments.”

The only solution to this is when your ex makes the decision of selling along, if not you are stuck. It’s going to be on you to get your statements and transfer your credit over, to make it possible to get another loan or mortgage in the relevant future.

Not everyone can see problems like this before hand when dealing with divorce. But then, working with professionals that are competent enough can help avoid such issues.

If there is no assistance coming from your ex, then mingle with people who are willing to help.

When Things Become Frightening

Different attitudes of divorced spouses have been vividly enumerated so far, and they are definitely not good ones.

There are ex-spouses with psychological problems and can venture into dreaded places. On issues like this, a quick response is needed with a strong defense like civil lawsuits and restraining orders.

You may have to leave to a location that your ex has no idea about in serious situations as this.


Issues of such gravity are precisely beyond the reason for this book. But you can seek your attorney’s advice if there are signs of trouble or visit a law enforcement agency.

Relates To  -  divorced homes, home seller tips