Do You Need To Sell Your House During a Divorce?

Divorce is never easy, and dividing marital assets like a house can add another layer of complexity to an already challenging situation. 

If you find yourself in this position, you’re probably struggling with figuring out what to do with your home. One common concern is, “Do I have to sell my house in a divorce?” Should you sell it? Keep it? Who gets it? Let’s navigate through these questions together.

Who Gets the House in a Divorce?

When a couple gets divorced, they often wonder who gets to keep the house. The answer depends on a few things, like whether the house is considered joint property or owned separately.

When you split up, you must share your things, including the house. The division of the house (or the money from selling it) depends on the timing of its purchase and the laws of your state.

But if you and your ex-spouse can agree on who gets what without going to court, you can make your own decisions instead of following state rules.

Martial or Separate Property

Deciding what happens to the family home becomes a significant issue when going through a divorce. Here are some important things to think about.

If the couple bought the house during the marriage, it’s usually considered marital property. It means that both spouses will likely divide it during the divorce.

On the other hand, if the other spouse owned the house before the marriage or if one spouse received it as a gift or inheritance during the marriage, it might be considered separate property

In this case, the court may not divide it during the divorce proceedings.

Community Property States – Virginia

In states like Virginia, which follow community property state laws, assets acquired during the marriage are generally considered jointly owned property. However, in equitable distribution states, assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses during divorce.

But this doesn’t automatically translate to selling the house. Here are some options:

Equitable Division

While the court evenly splits assets, spouses may agree to one party retaining the house by compensating the other party for their share of the equity. This arrangement allows for a more amicable agreement during the divorce proceeding.

Keeping the Home

Sometimes, one spouse may retain use and occupancy of the home for a specified period (often until the youngest child turns 18). Afterward, the spouses may sell the house and divide the equity.

Do You Have a Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement, often referred to as a prenup, is a legal document created by individuals before marriage to establish the division of assets and responsibilities in the event of divorce or death. 

Before Marriage

Before tying the knot, couples may opt to draft a prenuptial agreement to safeguard their assets and clarify financial expectations. These agreements can cover various aspects of asset division, spousal support, and even matters related to estate planning.

After Marriage

In some cases, couples may realize the need for a postnuptial agreement after marriage due to changes in financial circumstances or simply a desire to formalize certain arrangements. 

Postnuptial agreements can address the same issues as prenuptial agreements but spouses execute them after the marriage has already occurred.

Property Division

One of the primary purposes of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is to outline the division of property in case of divorce. This can include real estate, investments, business interests, and personal belongings. 

By clearly delineating ownership and rights to property, couples can mitigate disputes and streamline the divorce process if it becomes necessary.

Addressing Concerns

For couples who own a house together, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can clarify what happens to the property in the event of a divorce. 

It may include provisions about whether to sell the house, they determine how to divide the proceeds, or whether one spouse will retain ownership while compensating the other.

Financial Protection

Beyond property division, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can also address financial responsibilities and obligations during the marriage and in the event of divorce. This can include provisions for spousal support (alimony), division of debts, and other financial matters, offering both parties a sense of security and predictability.

Buying Out the Other Party

With a buyout option, the person wishing to retain ownership of the house compensates their spouse with half of the current home’s market value. 

In states with equitable distribution laws, this amount may vary depending on rental income, financial contributions, and potential future earnings.

Reasons for choosing this option: One spouse may opt that the family keep home to provide stability for their children or due to its proximity to schools or workplaces. 

It can also be preferable if the local real estate market conditions are unfavorable. Selling the property could potentially result in a loss.

Considerations to keep in mind: Pursuing a buyout requires access to a substantial amount of cash that is separate from the other divorce proceedings. But, it may be feasible to incorporate the buyout amount into a home refinancing arrangement. 

Plus, it’s important to make sure that you can still manage monthly mortgage payments on a single income, if applicable.

Using a Lawyer When Buying Out Your Other Party

Using a Lawyer When Buying Out Your Other Party

Getting a lawyer involved when you’re buying out your spouse during a divorce can provide essential support and guidance to the divorce attorney.

They have the expertise to navigate the legal complexities involved in property transactions. It makes sure that all necessary steps are taken and protects your rights throughout the divorce process.

From drafting legal documents to negotiating terms with your spouse’s representation, a lawyer can advocate for your best interests and help facilitate a smooth buyout transition. 

Should You Sell Your House During a Divorce in Virginia?

The marital home holds significant emotional and financial weight for both spouses. Deciding whether to sell it or allow one party to keep it can be a long emotional process. However, in most cases, selling the family home and dividing the proceeds is the best course of action, especially considering ongoing expenses like property taxes.

In Virginia, marital assets acquired during the marriage are generally considered joint property. 

While some divorcing couples opt for a buyout arrangement, where one spouse purchases the other’s share of the home, selling the house entirely is often more practical. 

Divorce selling allows both parties to move forward independently and avoid ongoing ties to the property, which can simplify the divorce settlement process. It’s advisable to consult with a real estate attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Negotiating the Sale of a Marital Home

When selling a house, there are many decisions to make together, like how much to sell it for, discussing offers, and picking a closing date. 

If you’re divorced and selling a home with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, both of you need to communicate well and work together, along with your lawyers. 

Here are some key things to agree on for a successful home sale:

  • Deciding on an Offer: If you get an offer, both of you need to agree on the terms or make a counteroffer.
  • Choosing a Real Estate Agent: Find an agent both of you like and have a successful real estate transaction successfully.
  • Paying the Monthly Mortgage: Decide who pays the mortgage while the house is for sale and who receives that money back after selling it.
  • Deciding on Home Improvements: You need to agree if you want to fix up the house or sell it as it is.
  • Setting a Fair Price: Agree on how much to sell the house for, which can affect other parts of your divorce agreement.
  • Considering Selling to an Investor: If you both want to sell quickly, you might decide to sell to an investor.
  • Sharing Marketing Costs: Decide in advance how to split the cost of selling your house such as legal professional photos or online ads.
  • Dividing the Divorce Sale Money: After all the expenses are paid, like the mortgage, agent fees, and taxes, you split the money left from selling the house.

Quick Solutions for Selling a Home in a Divorce

Facing the time to sell your house amidst the challenges of a divorce, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed. 

However, there are streamlined solutions designed to alleviate the stress and simplify the divorce process, minimizing liability risks associated with property ownership. Companies like Coastline Homebuyers specialize in quick and hassle-free property purchases.

By choosing their services, you can quickly offload your home, freeing yourself from the burdensome ties to a property that may complicate an already difficult situation. 

With Coastline Homebuyers, you can easily transition to the next chapter of your life. It leaves behind the uncertainties and complexities of managing a problematic property during a divorce.


Navigating the home sale during a divorce can be hard, but with the right information and support, you can make informed decisions that benefit both parties. 

Whether you choose to sell the house, buy out your former spouse, or pursue alternative solutions, seek guidance from legal and real estate agents like Virginia Cash Home Buyers

It can help ensure a smooth transition and a brighter future ahead. They provide you with a fresh start as you embark on the next chapter of your life.

And remember, if you’re in the Virgin Beach area, you have options like us. We buy houses in Virgin Beach, offering a convenient way to sell your property quickly and with minimal hassle.

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