At a closing with a divorced seller, I walked in to hear her yelling some pretty unkind things at her ex. Ultimately, she walked out of the closing and I ended up having her sign all the documents on the hood of her car.

Selling a home already has its own set of stresses and depending on the relationship you have with your ex, it can make the transaction have even more complications than usual. For many the closing represents another “ending” and can be emotional, not to mention being a source of financial stress. When going through a similar process, here are some tips I recommend when selling a home during a divorce:

  1. Don’t show up at the same time. If you anticipate it being stressful, avoid scheduling to arrive at the same time as your ex. It’s not necessary and in this situation should be avoided.
  2. If you must be at the closing together, be extra sensitive about bringing new family or relationships. If you’re really looking to move forward with those people, you’ll handle this situation on your own so you can quickly move it to your past.
  3. Set up the deal so both parties have the same goals.  It is very complicated to sell a home when there are two sellers with different points of view. For example, if the wife is receiving all the proceeds she should be responsible for the sale and it may be best if the property is deeded to her prior to marketing the home so she is free to proceed. There are still legal ways to protect yourself without having to have title to the home.
  4. If at all possible have one person be responsible for handling the deal. If a divorce is complicated it may make selling the home almost impossible. My last divorce deal was set up so the husband was making payments and responsible for the home but the wife had to agree to everything. Even though she was getting 2/3 of the proceeds from the sale, she was in no hurry to because she wanted to have him suffer by making additional mortgage payments.
  5. Lawyers negotiate all kinds of settlements. They may make legal sense but they don’t always translate into a practical solution to selling the home. It would pay to have a good real estate agent involved prior to finalizing any deals so they can offer insight into issues that may impact selling the home.