Guide to Selling a Family Home After a Divorce

By By 

While you and your spouse may have split up, you’ve still got assets to worry about  – and a family home is a major one. Selling a family home can be stressful and frustrating for everyone involved, and not all homeowners understand their options. 

As you go through a life-altering change like divorce, here’s what you should know about who gets the house during the divorce, how to sell a house, the cost to sell a house during divorce in VA, and more regarding a home sale, foreclosure, and sale proceeds that happen when you sell my house.

Steel Marketing

Who Gets the House in a Divorce?

When it comes to selling your house during divorce in VA or even after divorce, many homeowners’ first question is who gets the home? Ultimately, the answer depends on how the house was purchased.

Spouses Purchased the Home Together, One Wants to Sell

If you bought the house together and one ex-spouse wants to sell, you’ll typically have to refinance the rest of the mortgage to ensure both spouses get their portion of the equity. 

One Spouse Bought the House Before Marriage

If one spouse purchased the house before marriage, the court would need to determine if joint income paid the mortgage, assuming the spouse didn’t own it outright. 

If you used joint income for the mortgage, the court might decide that the first spouse needs to pay the other spouse a share of the property. This amount will depend on how much money the other spouse put towards the mortgage while married. 

Spouses Purchased the Home Together, Neither Wants to Sell:

There may be cases where neither spouse wants to sell the house, but they also don’t want to co-own it. In this situation, it’s up to the court to decide how the house gets distributed. 

Keep in mind that Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means the courts have the power to determine if your house is separate or marital property. 

Marital or Separate Property

Virginia courts may decide whether your house is separate or marital property, but what exactly does that mean? In VA, property in your divorce can fall into one of three categories: separate, marital, or hybrid property. 


Separate property during a divorce includes any property or assets that you purchased before the marriage, including a house. A house that one spouse owned outright before the marriage would qualify under a separate property. 

In most cases, the separate property also includes items acquired during the marriage that were given as a gift or inheritance, like a car or property. 


Marital property includes all assets that either spouse acquired from the date of marriage to the date of separation, excluding gifts or inheritances. If the home was purchased during the marriage (or just jointly titled), it falls under a marital property. 

When it comes to selling a house that’s marital property, it’s up to the courts to decide how those shares should be split between spouses. 


It’s also possible for specific items, including a house, to be hybrid property: part separate and part marital. A good example of part separate and part marital property is a house that one spouse purchased before the marriage but used the joint income to pay for it. 

Whether the house is jointly titled or not, the other spouse is usually entitled to some of the money from the sale, depending on how much they put toward the mortgage, downpayment, or other expenses. 

Community Property States – Virginia

You might’ve heard the term “community property” or “community property state” before, but what does this mean, and is this something you need to worry about if you’re getting divorced in Virginia? 

To make dealing with contested divorces easier, certain states in the US have passed community property laws. This means that all marital property gets split equally, regardless of each spouse’s contribution. 

If you’re selling a house that falls under the category of marital property, this means that both spouses would get an equal share of the sale, even if one spouse didn’t contribute as much to the expenses. 

While community property states include places like Arizona, California, Idaho, and six other states, Virginia is not a community property state nor do you need to worry about community property laws if you’re getting divorced here. 

Do You Have a Prenup?

If there’s one thing that changes the game when you’re selling a house after a divorce, it’s a prenup. Not all marriages include a prenuptial agreement, but if yours did, it can change the division of assets in VA. 

Prenups may not always include stipulations about your home, but if they do, that can determine who gets the house in your divorce  – or how the money is split during the sale of the property. For example, you and your spouse may purchase a home during the marriage, which becomes marital property during the divorce. 

If you have a prenup that already stipulates the house goes towards one spouse in the divorce, then that’s the agreement the courts will follow  – regardless of who paid the mortgage or other expenses. 

Buying Out the Other Party

One option to make dealing with your family home after a divorce easier is to buy out the other party. Rather than try to sell the home together, you can always buy out your spouse’s share of the equity and liabilities by giving them a lump sum payment or setting up a payment plan. 

If the other spouse allows you to buy them out, you’ll be able to do with the home as you wish, whether that’s selling or keeping it. Keep in mind that any money you put towards buying out your spouse isn’t considered part of the divorce settlement. 

Using a Lawyer When Buying Out the Other Party

Buying out the other party in a divorce can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive. In most cases, hiring a divorce attorney, divorce lawyer, or family law attorney to help speed things along can save you time (and money) in the long-term with property division, marital assets, and the rest of the sale process.

Negotiating the Sale of a Marital Home

Negotiating the sale of your marital home can be tricky when tensions are high during the divorce, but here are a few key tips to remember: 

  • You should always get the home appraised before selling so that you and your spouse can receive an accurate value for it
  • Both parties should be able to agree on a price for the home as well as have realistic expectations for how much it’s worth on the VA real estate market
  • Both parties will also need to agree on how the house will be sold, whether that’s through a real estate agent, selling on your own (FSBO), or selling to a company where we buy houses in Virginia
  • Both parties will need to agree on who pays for expenses related to the sale, like the appraisal, repairs, maintenance, and mortgage lender fees and taxe

Quick Solutions for Selling a Home in a Divorce

There are a couple of quick ways you can go about selling your home after a divorce in VA  – you can hire a real estate agent (although this can take longer and you’ll need to pay a small percentage of the sale in realtor fees) or sell it on your own, which is called FSBO. 

Selling your home without an agent or outside help can save a little money on fees, but this can also be a lot more stressful, and you’re less likely to sell for as much money.

However, the quickest way to sell your home is by working with companies that buy houses in Norfolk or VA, like Avante Home Buyers. A company that sells homes for you will purchase your home in its current condition. Avante Home Buyers are cash home buyers for Virginia Beach or anywhere else you can think of and offer better odds within 24 to 48 hours. 

Final Thoughts

Selling your home after a divorce can be stressful for everyone involved, and even painful to relive those memories. Why prefer cash buyers? If you’re looking to sell your family home quickly and without all the realtor fees, this is where Avante Home Buyers can help. 

You can sell your home on your schedule and receive a cash offer within 24 hours  – contact us at Avante Home Buyers today. 

Do you want to learn more about how to find buyers for your house in Norfolk? We can help! Give us a call or send us a message today! 866-833-5262