Question: My wife and I are going through a divorce and our house has been on the market for more than a year. Last week we got an offer that I want to accept but which she refuses to consider.
© Merrily Harpur
I'm worried that she just intends to stay in the house forever and I'll never get my fair share of the money. What can I do?
Answer: It depends on the stage you have reached in your divorce process, and whether all the factors to be considered on the breakdown of a marriage have been taken into account.
If the terms of your financial settlement are agreed and incorporated into a financial court order including an order for sale, then this court order can be enforced through the courts, and a judge can ultimately sign the sale papers on your wife's behalf should she fail to do so.
For the courts to enforce the order you would have to produce documentary evidence showing that your wife was behaving unreasonably and in clear breach of the order. Such evidence could include a joint independent valuation by another estate agent and/or comparable information to show that the offer you have received is within the range of reasonableness.
If you do not have a court order with an order for sale, the situation is trickier because the courts have no jurisdiction during divorce settlement negotiations to force the sale of a house. However, as your house is already on the market, ask your selling agent to advise you and your wife on what is a realistic sale price and perhaps for information on comparable properties for you both to consider.
It is not unusual on a marriage breakdown for spouses not to listen to each other. You may wish to consider getting an independent valuation from an agent other than the one you are using to see if your wife will take heed of that.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.
Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
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.