Legal Blog

Selling Your Home During A Divorce

Selling a home under any circumstance can be an emotional process. Selling your home as a result of a divorce can be very difficult.  Trying to agree on what happens to the home where the family lived during the marriage, or the “marital home”, is often a large part of settlement negotiations during a divorce.  When there are children involved, it may be important that the children be allowed to stay in the marital home for a period of time in order to adjust to their new family structure in familiar surroundings that are close to friends, other family members, school, and activities.  A court in Maryland can award a custodial parent use and possession of the marital home for up to 3 years.  Another option is for one party to buy out the other party’s interest in the marital home and refinance the debt to remove the selling party from the obligation.

But if you decide to sell immediately, how does the sale of the marital home work during a divorce?  Assuming the property is titled in both parties’ names, both parties must sign the listing agreement and agree on the aspects of sale, such as the listing agent, listing price, and readying the home for sale.  When only one party’s name is on the deed, that party handles the sale of the property.  Typically, though, settlement cannot occur until there is a signed, global settlement agreement or a court order addressing the sale and the division of sale proceeds, regardless of how the home is titled.

When selling it is helpful to build certain terms into an agreement between the parties, in case there is a disagreement.  The agreement can contain dispute resolution processes, such as obtaining appraisals if the parties are unable to agree on listing price, or agreeing that the party living in the home will make sure the home is available for a showing.   Another consideration is not just who will take which of the home furnishings and other personal property, but when?

Other considerations include who will pay the costs of the home until it is sold, such as mortgage, association dues, utilities, and repairs, and who will pay the costs of readying the home for sale.  Will the parties share the expenses equally or will the paying party receive a credit from the other party’s share of the sales proceeds?   There are many ways to answer these questions.

When you are going through a divorce, you should build a team of professionals to help you through each aspect.  In addition to an experienced family lawyer, choosing the right Realtor is very important. From a family law attorney’s perspective? The Realtor needs to be experienced, neutral, and firm, but not high-conflict.    It is also helpful to choose someone who you has your spouse’s buy in.  It may seem obvious, but the Realtor should not be your new significant other or your best friend from college (both of which I have experienced).  Try to get on the same page with your spouse before taking things to your Realtor, if possible, so that the Realtor is best situated to provide the best result.  The marital home is often a family’s largest asset, so how you navigate the sales process significantly impacts your family’s future.



Please contact Catherine H. “Kate” McQueen to discuss your family law issues in Maryland at (240) 507-1718 or


ABOUT KATE MCQUEEN | 240-507-1718

Catherine H. “Kate” McQueen is a family lawyer and principal in Offit Kurman’s Bethesda office and is licensed to practice in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Ms. McQueen focuses her practice on the many legal issues that impact families, including all the issues arising out of a divorce, such as custody, child support, alimony, and other financial and property issues. She also has extensive experience in guardianship matters for children and incapacitated adults, including assisting clients in petitioning for guardianship, serving as court-appointed counsel for alleged disabled persons, and serving as court-appointed guardian for individuals when their family members or friends are unwilling or unable to do so.






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