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Is Your Ex Ignoring Court Order to Sell the House?

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Is Your Ex Ignoring Court Order to Sell the House?
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Divorces can be messy.

Dealing with both names on the mortgage can be one of the most contentious points.

So, can one of these ex-partners force the other to sell a house? And what happens if an ex ignores a court order to sell?

Keep reading to find out.

What is a court order to sell a house?

In the United Kingdom, a court order to sell a house is a legal mandate issued to ensure the legal resolution and distribution of a property’s proceeds.

They are usually issued after divorces, inheritance disputes, or foreclosures.

A court is likely to order the sale of a house when:

How do courts arrive at decisions?

In this process, a court will hold a hearing to determine whether a sale will be demanded.

Any opposing parties can state their case about why this should not happen.

For example, if they have a clear plan to meet their mortgage repayments, they have young children living in the house, or they dispute how the home will be divided during divorce.

If the order for sale is granted, the court can make an order giving a date for possession.

However, the opposers can ask for certain stipulations to be put in place – for example, the house is only sold after a specific date (e.g. when a child turns 18).

How do I apply for a court order to sell a house?

You first need to complete an N208 form.

This orders the possession and sale of a house. It is submitted to the nearest County Court hearing centre and should include all the following details:

  • Evidence of your financial interest in the property (e.g. a copy of the mortgage or the property’s Title Deeds)
  • How much debt is owed on the house
  • Details of any previous charges on the property
  • The estimated sale price of the house
  • A clear outline of who owns the property and what the circumstances are

Once this document is submitted, you will usually receive a hearing date.

All interested parties can attend and make their case, after which the court will decide.

As with any case you wish to submit to a court, you should get expert legal guidance on following the relevant processes.

What happens if my ex ignores a court order to sell a house?

If your ex refuses to comply with an order to sell your house, then the court can still force the sale to go through.

The ex may then be in ‘Contempt of Court’ under the corresponding 1981 Act, which may result in penalties or even prison time.

Remember that the above scenario assumes that both parties in the divorce own 50% of the house under a Joint Mortgage.

On the other hand, if you and your ex-partner are Tenants in Common, then the circumstances are slightly different.

Regardless of the ownership ratio, if one party wants out, then the other people involved must allow that.

This can be done by:

  • A sale of the whole property and all owners cashing out
  • One of the other owners buying out the share
  • A non-owner buying that share

Can I force my ex to sell the house?

In short: it depends.

If you own the house through a joint mortgage you can apply for a court-ordered sale.

However, this will not be successful if your ex-partner can provide the court with a legitimate reason for this not to happen.

If you own the house as Tenants in Common, you can often still force the sale if your ex-partner cannot buy out your share of the mortgage.

Can I sell my share of the property to someone else?

Yes, there are a couple of ways you can sell your share of a property (as Tenants in Common) to someone else. This is sometimes known as a ‘partial sale’ or ‘fractional ownership’.

Your deed of trust should explain how your ownership is split and what happens if one person wants to sell their shares.

In most cases, someone can sell their house shares without the other owner’s permission.

(You should get a legal expert who can guide you through the process of selling your share.)

Will court order a house sale if I have sole custody and children living with me?

With any court hearing about whether a house sale should be forced, you can make your case about why it should not be allowed.

It is common for the sale to be delayed until a certain event occurs—for example, the youngest child living in the house turns 18.

If you have sole custody of the children, then the court is even more likely to rule in your favour.

Ensure you get proper legal representation so that your circumstances are heard, and the court considers this.

What happens if the divorce isn’t finalised?

If your divorce has not yet been finalised, then both you and your ex-partner have the right to remain in the house.

Legally, you both can live there. However, this can create an uncomfortable situation that forces one party to suggest selling.

If your ex-partner tries to force a house sale against your will, you should obtain legal help and seek a Notice of Home Right against the property.

This applies to married couples. It will prevent your partner from selling the house while you are still legally married, even if the property and mortgage is in their name.

Can I buy my ex-partner out of the mortgage?

Yes, you can buy your ex-partner out of the mortgage if you have the funds to do so.

They may contend this decision – for example, if they want to buy you out instead – in which case it might need to be heard in court.

You could raise this capital in several ways, such as by requesting a further advance from your current lender or taking out a second-charge loan from a different lender.

Speak to a solicitor for guidance to ensure you follow all the correct procedures when buying your ex-partner out of a mortgage.

Who will buy the house if a sale is forced?

If a court order requires you to sell a house, then this will typically be done on the open market through an estate agent.

In exceptional circumstances (usually heard and then decided upon at court), a cash-buying company or auction house may purchase the property instead.

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