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Can the Court Order the Sale of a Marital Home in Texas?

The property division phase of divorce can be quite complicated, particularly when a couple has accumulated substantial assets during marriage. In the State of Texas, the doctrine of “community property” holds that, absent compelling circumstances to rule otherwise, marital assets should be divided in an equal 50% / 50% fashion. In many cases, when couples accumulate assets during marriage, they don’t always accumulate assets in a way which lends itself easily to division. This happens, for instance, when a couple’s primary asset is in the form of real estate.

Consider the following scenario: a couple accumulates assets in marriage, but the primary asset is a house which is determined to be marital property. When the couple divorces, how is the property division process supposed to unfold? If the spouses don’t agree that one spouse should assume ownership over the house, what will happen to ensure a fair distribution of the marital estate?

Answer: Yes, a Texas Court Can Order the Sale of a Marital Home

The answer to the question posed in the title is “yes,” a court in Texas has the power to order the sale of a marital home, and a Texas court may do so in instances such as the one just described above. In the above scenario, in which a couple’s main asset is its marital home, a Texas court can issue an order that the marital home be sold to ensure maximal fairness in the distribution of the marital assets. In these instances, the court will order that the home be sold, following appraisal by a real estate professional, and that the proceeds be divided equally between the spouses after the sale (and the payoff of all obligations, such as taxes, mortgage, etc.). However, even though the court has the power to issue such an order, this doesn’t always happen, as couples can also attempt to resolve property division in alternative ways. For instance, if one spouse prefers to keep the house, and the other spouse is willing to let the house go, the spouse who wants to keep the house can simply transfer enough assets to the other spouse to balance out the situation. In these cases, the spouse taking the marital home may make a lump sum cash payment to the other spouse.

Court-Ordered Sales Can Bring About Complex Issues

Readers should know that court-ordered sales can often bring up complex issues, because the selling of real estate is an involved process. When selling real estate, a series of steps must be undertaken, including obtaining a professional appraisal and devising a “listing strategy” to outline the sales process. The listing strategy can take various forms. For example, a real estate advisor may counsel the property should be listed for a price slightly below the appraisal to create a “bidding war”; or, an advisor may counsel in the opposite direction and recommend a list price above appraisal. Given how involved the selling process can be, it’s not uncommon for spouses to launch objections at various points if they’re dissatisfied with how things are unfolding. One spouse might object to a certain appraisal, for instance, and try to demand that an alternative appraiser be used. This is something which should be kept in mind whenever a court-ordered sale happens.

Contact Goldsberry, Portz & Lutterbie, PLLC for More Information

If you’d like to learn more about property division in Texas, including the circumstances under which a court may order the sale of a marital home, reach out to one of the family law attorneys at Goldsberry, Portz & Lutterbie, PLLC today by calling 281-485-3500.

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