Domestic Relation Orders: Selling a Home

Domestic Relation Orders: Selling a Home
Page content

Divorced Couples and Real Estate

Divorces are growing more common, and couples now need to consider their finances carefully when they get married. In some cases, homes purchased after the marriage are the legal property of both spouses, even if only one person’s name is listed on the deed. This is common in states that are considered community property states.

In many cases however, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is included as part of a divorce proceeding. This document carefully explains the rights and obligations of each party. In addition, a QDRO also explains who has custody of children (if applicable), who is responsible for what financial obligations, and who takes ownership of the marriage home. However, in some cases, the QDRO also allows the two parties to continue their joint ownership of the marital property, especially in cases where there are minor children.

The QDRO may also clarify the answer to the question of “Can a divorced man sell his house?” However, this is not always clear. If there is any doubt, it is a good idea to check with an attorney who specializes in family law. The spouse may need to buy out the other spouse, they may simply need to remove the spouse from the deed, or there may be other steps that are necessary. It is also a good idea to discuss the sale with the lender, especially if both spouses are responsible for the loan.

Specific Cases

1024px-Yes check.svg

Before the question can a divorced man sell his house is answered, it is helpful to understand what the specific circumstances are. Here are some specific cases and how they would each be handled.

Spouse is the co-debtor but not co-owner - while this is a rare occurrence, if a QDRO was issued that requires the spouse remain as debtor, it is possible that they may be listed as a debtor but not as an owner. In this case, it is not necessary to obtain their permission to sell the marital home;

Spouse is the co-owner - some QDROs do not remove the spouse as the co-owner of the home with the caveat that if the home is sold, the spouse must be bought out. In these cases, the spouse must be consulted before the home is sold as they will have to give their permission;

Minor children - though rare, a QDRO may state that the husband must maintain the marital home until the children are of legal age, unless the sale is agreed upon by the spouse;

Spouse buy-out - the more common circumstances of a divorce are that one spouse buys the interest in the property from the other spouse during or shortly after divorce proceedings. In this case, the home would be solely the property of one spouse, and no permission is needed to sell the home.

Depending on the state that you live in and any conditions that were associated with your divorce, before you can successfully answer the question can a divorced man sell his house you may need to contact a legal counselor. Do not take any chances and find that you have a purchase and sale agreement and an uncooperative ex-spouse.



  1. The Baltimore Sun, 6/11/2009 Divorce, separation and the first-time homebuyer credit
  2. Law Problems Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin, REM #Law 708 Divorce Leads to Home Ownership Issues
  3. MSN Money vai Should you keep the house in a divorce?
  4. Divorce and Real Estate © 1997-2003 Wolf Hollow Publishing, Publisher of Divorce Strategy

Image Credits