Real estate Q&A: Ask a real estate pro: Now that we're divorcing, what can I do to force the sale of our home?

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Q: My husband just filed for divorce. We both own the house, but I was the only borrower on the loan. I would like to sell it and get something that I can afford on my own, but he is not cooperating and is no longer kicking in toward household expenses. What should I do? — Kelly

A: When multiple people own a property, they all have to agree to sell a house. If any owner refuses, you will need to go to court to get it done. This is no different in a divorce.

Fortunately, your husband already took that first step for you and filed a lawsuit. I know it seems to be counter-intuitive to use the words fortunately and divorce in the same sentence, but in your situation, your husband already spent the time and money getting a lawsuit filed that you can use to get your house sold.

You should find an experienced family lawyer to assist you with this process.

While this is happening, you should ask your soon-to-be ex to assist with the mortgage payments. Since he will most likely refuse, your lawyer may need to go to court for this.

In the meantime, reach out to your mortgage lender and see if they offer any relief. Most lenders have programs for people experiencing temporary financial hardship.

You could see if your husband will agree to sell the house now and hold the disputed part of the proceeds in escrow. This makes even more sense if there is very little equity in the property.

If he does not agree, your attorney might be able to convince the judge to order it done.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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