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10 Ways to Manage the Stress of Selling a House During Divorce

10 Ways to Manage the Stress of Selling a House During Divorce

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The top five life changes that cause the most stress are: the loss of a loved one, divorce, moving, a major illness/injury, and job loss. When a married couple splits up, two of those life changes happen at once, and it’s a massive weight. If you have to face selling a house during divorce, you need to find ways to manage the stress of the process.

How selling a home can ease the stress of divorce

Divorce is essentially about moving on with life. Yes, the family home is the center of life, but that also means that it tethers two people together. The central part of a divorce is untwining those two lives, and nothing is more symbolic of that than moving apart.

It doesn’t matter what the reason is for your divorce, creating separate property will help you move on. If you sell a house during divorce, this will naturally do a significant amount of work towards creating your independence.

When you’re not on the same page

Frustrated Couple with their Divorce Lawyer

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Divorcing couples are often chomping at the bit to get rid of their shared home. However, if you weren’t on the same page during your marriage, it’s unlikely that you’ll be on the same page on how to go about selling real estate.

There are emotional reasons that two parties will be acrimonious when going through a divorce. This often bleeds over into the selling process, and that’s where the stress really comes in.

These ten ways to cope with being home sellers who are also divorcing will ease the process and give you insight into your own needs during divorce.

1 – Let go of the pressure to rush

Yes, you want to get the whole thing over with. That’s certainly understandable.

Many people think that if they sell quickly, that will get rid of the emotional turmoil that surrounds the divorce. The opposite is actually the case. When divorcing spouses rush through a home sale, it can actually make things worse.

Making a mistake, either by selling at a lower price than you’re comfortable with or by agreeing to terms that aren’t what you really want, will only exacerbate the issues.

Divorce proceedings are necessarily long and drawn out. Though there is such a thing as a quick divorce, even a quick divorce is going to last six months or more, depending on the state. Even if the parties agree, there is separation time and court processing time built into divorce proceedings.

All that just means that you have some time to breathe and determine your next steps. Don’t rush into a deal that you’re not comfortable with because you want to make a clean break.

2 – Lean on your support network

When you’re going through a divorce, you’ll need a lot of emotional support from family and friends. Don’t shy away from leaning on people in your life who you can trust.

This is the time to call on friends for recommendations and suggestions. When you’re evaluating a real estate agent or considering a home investment company, enlist your friends to scout them out online and find their reviews. Don’t think that you have to do it all yourself.

You’ll be doing your fair share of this on your own, and with this stressful situation you need to let others carry some of the load. Look out specifically for friends and family who have been through divorce before as they’ll be able to empathize with what you’re going through.

3 – Build a circle of professionals

Selling a house during a divorce will require the same kind of professionals that any home sale would need. Just as mentioned above, finding people that you feel comfortable with and can trust will make the whole process of dealing with your ex spouse much easier.

It makes sense to try to find real estate professionals who won’t take sides. Look into a real estate agent who has experience working with divorce settlements. You can also ask your lawyer to find an attorney who can work with you on the real estate side of things.

Many people going through a divorce really rely on the connection and support that a therapist can provide them during the chaos of this time. Though it can seem like a frivolous expense, it will actually help you have a clear head to make the right decisions about selling a home during divorce.

The circle of professionals should also include a real estate tax professional. They can help to guide you through the tax implications of selling your house.

4 – Consider the tax implications

That leads us to understanding the tax implications of selling your home during divorce, including capital gains tax. Depending on the point that you sell the house at, you could end up having to pay much more in taxes than you have to.

A tax attorney can guide you through this process, and it’s a good idea for you to make contact with one early on. Divorce affects every part of your financial life, and taxes are a major aspect of financial health. Property taxes and capital gains tax are two important sides to consider when you sell a home during divorce.

There are ways to slow down the divorce to accommodate the best tax situation or to slow down the home sale process in order to accommodate the tax implications. In either case, speak to a family law specialist when you’re considering whether to sell a house during a divorce.

5 – Iron out the story for potential buyers

Person Holding Divorce Papers

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Before you start talking to potential buyers, try to connect with the other spouse enough to get the story straight. If there was infidelity or some other impropriety that sparked the divorce, that doesn’t need to come into the sphere when trying to sell your house for fair market value.

The less you say about your personal situation, the better your ability to negotiate for the price that you want to sell for. Real estate agents can help with this during the divorce process.

When someone comes out to see your home, focus on the money rather than the demise of the marriage. If at all possible, try not to be at any open houses at the same time. This should be fairly straightforward, but take your agent’s advice about it if you are unsure.

6 – Create a schedule

Selling your house with a divorce settlement looming means there are a lot of things to juggle all at once. If you and your spouse are selling a home that you both have high level emotions about, it’s all the more important to create separate schedules so that the divorcing couple has to see as little of each other as possible.

This is a great time to really forge a separate living situation. A divorce attorney might be needed to help you find the best solution. You can also consider asking another arbiter to help you negotiate how to sell a house during a divorce. They can help you to disentangle the marital home.

One thing that works really well is to mark off responsibilities that each of you should take on. This might be challenging at first, but once you do it, the rest of the process will be easier. One party might take on the open house duties while the other handles collecting inspector information. Split the responsibilities as evenly as you can, and once you do just let it go.

7 – Community property problems

Whatever you both owned together that was in both names belongs to both of you. If you live in a community property state, then you’ll have to go through specific legal processes to determine how marital property gets divided up.

Community property extends to the marital home, even if one spouse has not lived there in a while. Divorce selling of a home is rarely straightforward.

Too often, divorcing couples will often need a court order to lay out how they’ll have to negotiate their interactions during separation. If your spouse files paperwork on the home without your consent before you’ve made a decision about community property, it will be hugely stressful.

When one party acts independently, it can make the property sale much more complicated. The good news is that there are clear legal methods that lay out how all of this happens in a divorce. If you co own property, then you both have a say in what happens. This includes real estate.

Though you have decisions to make, trust the people you surround yourself with. Let the divorce attorney do their job and lean on the other real estate professionals in your circle.

8 – Build in space

Man and woman divorcing talk out a real estate deal

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Divorce is highly emotional. The more space you build into your deal making, the easier it will be. Give yourself as much space as you can.

Boundaries are important for helping you keep your stress level manageable. Your former spouse is no longer your partner, and it can be difficult to let the marriage take the back burner while you focus on the money.

9 – Focus on the money

Looking forward after a divorce

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One of the best things you can do when you are selling real estate during a divorce is to focus on the money. Think of your ex spouse as another real estate investor or partner, and try not to let your emotions run wild.

Some great strategies here include communicating over email, working with separate property advocates, and crafting information in as professional a way as possible. The market isn’t about emotions, or at least it can’t be for you in this situation.

Talk to your financial advisor about how the mortgage payments will be affected by the divorce proceedings and how much you’ll have to pay in agent fees to the real estate agent. Factoring all of that into your financial plan will give you a good place to focus.

10 – Look forward

The sale of the marital home should be liberating. Though you’ll have to pay for attorney’s fees and consultations, you’ll also get that mortgage off of your plate. You can get back into the market yourself and look towards the next chapter in your life.

It’s a good idea to make a vision board with what you want your future to look like now that you’ve experienced divorce.

Though the marital home might have a lot of fond memories and hold a special place in your heart, there are good things ahead for you. Selling a home means letting go, but it also means opening up space for something much better for you.

Divorce is brutal, but selling your house shouldn’t be

Woman standing in her new home after a divorce

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Selling a home is a positive thing in your life, and it should be a bright point of hope in your divorce. The stress of a home sale is a constant pressure until the closing table, even if it all goes perfectly.

Even if your divorce is not contentious, it will be hard to let go of a house during a divorce. There are family memories to contend with, and the process is much harder if children are involved. Kids can put a lot of pressure on you and your ex spouse, and they have their own set stressors during all of this.

Give yourself the freedom and space to grieve the loss of the home you lived in and the life that you thought you would have in that home. It’s not easy, and you don’t have to be a superhero through the whole thing. You might be busy with moving and work and juggling your home sale, but those feelings won’t go away by keeping your mind busy.

Keep in mind that you aren’t alone in this process. Many people have gone through selling a house during a divorce, and their experiences can help you to have more peace of mind while you go through it yourself.

Brett Riggins

Brett Riggins

Founder of Connect Home Buyers Brett Riggins started his real estate journey after graduating from Western Michigan University in Construction Engineering. After completing his first few residential flips, him and his wife Arin started Connect Home Buyers LLC, and today, they help homeowners sell their property quick and hassle-free.

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