Can You Sell a House Before You Finalize a Divorce?

by Wayne Thomas
Some states automatically restrict your ability to sell property once a divorce is filed.

Some states automatically restrict your ability to sell property once a divorce is filed.

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The marital home is often one of the most valuable assets to divide in divorce. When a couple no longer lives under the same roof, selling the house may appear to be a practical next step. However, once a divorce petition is filed, state laws place certain restrictions on your ability to legally transfer the title of real estate without the consent of your spouse or the court.

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Restrictions on Sale of Home

When a divorce is filed, some states put an automatic restraining order on the sale or transfer of property acquired during the marriage, regardless of who holds title. Even in states where the restraining order is not automatic, a spouse may request that the court issue one if she is concerned that marital property may be liquidated. If you violate this order without first obtaining consent from the court or your spouse, you can be held in contempt. Further, if the transfer was made with the intent to shield the asset from the divorce, such as selling your home to a sibling for less than fair market value, the court has the authority to cancel the transfer.