Can I sell my house while my divorce is pending?
Q: Can I sell my house while the divorce is pending?
A: If the other party agrees, then yes, you can. However, if they are not in agreement you cannot. It’s important that everyone reads and understands the document filed with the court. Specifically, the preliminary injunctions that are filed with the initial petition for dissolution of marriage. Often the petitioner (the person filing) won’t actually read the preliminary injunctions because that’s what will be served to the other spouse. In the preliminary injunctions, it expressly says that the parties cannot sell property, destroy property, transfer property or encumber property. Therefore, unless you have an agreement or a court order, the answer is no, you cannot sell the property.
Q: What happens if I do?
A: If the property is sold, it becomes an issue that will be brought before the court as a contempt, violating a court order. There can be sanctions and other penalties that would be incurred. Recently, I had a case where the husband moved out of their residence and as soon as he was gone, the wife put everything on Craig’s list at an extremely low cost. She made sure the public knew that it was her husband’s property that she was getting rid of. This does happen, and when it does happen, you have to go back to court and get an injunction. Hopefully the court can get you in before all the property is gone.
About the author: Jason B. Castle is a Partner at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He is the President of the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, member of the State Bar of Arizona, and a member of the Maricopa County Bar Association, where he chaired the Family Law Section and Legislative Committee. He has expertise in child custody and Decision Making Authority. More recently he was named a Southwest Super Lawyer Rising Star. Got a divorce law question for Jason? Contact him directly.