Can my husband force his ex to sell their house?

When my husband split with his now ex-wife, he agreed to continue to pay the mortgage for two years, after which time their house would be sold or the mortgage transferred into her name. The two years is up and she is not co-operating. What can we do?
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Question:  As part of my husband’s previous divorce agreement, he gave up any claim to their jointly owned house. The ex-wife kept the house and my husband paid the mortgage for two years after the divorce. Those two years expired a year ago, when the house was to be sold or was to pass into his ex’s sole ownership — along with the remainder of the mortgage.

She has done nothing to arrange this and won’t communicate with us. My husband cannot remortgage our house because of his “interest” in the previous home. They have no children. What can we do to force her to change the mortgage over into her name or sell the property?

Answer: Assuming that a court order was made in the divorce proceedings, your husband can go back to court, as under the terms of the order the court should have the power to make — and enforce — an order for sale.

A judge could sign all the necessary documents relating to the sale of the property on behalf of your husband’s ex-wife.

The court can make directions stating which selling agents should be appointed and which solicitors should conduct the sale, and could make an order for costs against the ex-wife, should your husband wish to claim them.

He should contact the solicitors who acted for him in connection with his divorce to ensure that the order does provide for an order for sale.He should then write politely to hisex-wife notifying her that if she does not co-operate by either agreeing to sell the house or by transferring it into her sole name and taking over the existing mortgage within 14 days, he will have no choice but to seek advice from his solicitor and/or make an application to the court for an order for sale.

If there was no court order, a fresh financial application to court will be needed and it would be prudent for  your husband to seek legal advice.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email  or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (

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These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor. 

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