Navigating a Divorce: What to Do When Your Ex Won't Sell the House

Feature Article: Understanding Your Options When Your Ex Refuses to Sell the Family Home

Breaking up is hard to do, but it becomes even more challenging when assets are involved. One of the most common sources of conflict in a separation or divorce is the family home. What happens when one partner refuses to sell the house? It can be an emotionally charged and stressful time, but understanding your options can give you a sense of control and direction. In this feature article, we will delve into your rights and the choices you can make when faced with an obstinate ex-partner.

What Does the Law Say?

When you own a home jointly with someone else–be it marital or common-law–there are different property laws in each state or province that dictate what happens in the case of a separation. Typically, the law provides that where one partner wants to sell the family home after the separation, they can bring an application to the court to have the property listed for sale against the wishes of their ex-spouse or partner.

Options for selling the house

There are several methods you can use to sell the house if your ex-partner refuses:


Mediation is a low-key and inexpensive way to resolve conflicts surrounding the sale of the home with the help of a neutral third party. The mediator will work with both partners to understand their perspectives and suggest solutions, and the process will continue until they find an agreement.


Arbitration is similar to mediation in that it involves a neutral third party, but instead of working collaboratively to find an agreement, a decision is made to resolve the conflict. In arbitration, the arbitrator listens to arguments from both parties and makes a final and binding decision in the case.

Going to court

If mediation and arbitration are unsuccessful, the final solution is to go to court. In most cases, a judge will order the sale of the house and the proceeds will be divided according to the couple’s respective investments in the property. However, an order from the court can take a long time to obtain, and the process can be relatively expensive when compared to mediation and arbitration.

What happens if the house cannot be sold?

If the family home cannot be sold for any number of reasons, such as negative equity, there are still several options you can explore:

Rent the house

Renting out the property is an option that can generate income and allow both parties to maintain financial stability while waiting for the housing market to improve. The rental can be short or long term, depending on the individual situation and preferences.

Buying out your ex-partner’s share

If one partner can afford to purchase the other’s portion of the property, it can be a viable solution to end the deadlock in the separation process. In such a case, the share can be sold to the partner who wants to keep the family home without forcing them to sell the property.

Seek Professional Assistance

When dealing with a family home that is part of a separation, it is always recommended to seek professional help. With the help of a family law legal paraprofessional, you can get an unbiased opinion on the situation and understand your rights and options. Additionally, they can provide legal assistance and represent you in court, if necessary.


When your ex-partner refuses to sell the family home, it can be a difficult and stressful time. However, with the right information and support, you can find solutions that work for both parties. Whether it is mediation, arbitration, or going to court, always remember that there are options available. Seek assistance from a family law legal paraprofessional who can provide the support and legal advice you need to navigate the challenging aspects of the separation process.

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