Couples going through a divorce in New York must come to an agreement about how their property will be divided. New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that the distribution of assets and debts isn’t necessarily equal. This allows the judge to make a distribution that may favor one spouse over the other. For instance, the primary custodial parent, who may be the lower earner, may be awarded slightly more property in a settlement in order to help the parent maintain a stable home for the children.
What judges intensely dislike is any attempt to conceal or misrepresent any assets or marital property. This dislike extends to any tactics that might seem sneaky or underhanded, which is certainly what selling a house without the other spouse’s permission looks like. This makes it extremely unlikely for one spouse to be able to sell the marital home without the knowledge and consent of the other spouse. This is true even when only one spouse’s name appears on the deed or mortgage. While divorce proceedings are still underway, it is likely that the spouse who is not named on the mortgage could stop the sale by bringing the matter before the court. Moreover, selling the home or any other property without permission during the pendency of a divorce can be deemed “contempt of court”, as the parties to a divorce are automatically restrained from transferring property in most instances.
The philosophy of equitable distribution gives the judge quite a bit of latitude, and most judges don’t appreciate it when one of the parties in a marriage dissolution does something as high-handed as attempting to sell the most valuable marital asset without the other spouse’s knowledge. Sometimes people think that because they put a down payment on the property before their marriage that the house belongs solely to them, and that they are free to dispose of it as they wish. However, a number of factors may lead the judge to conclude that the family home is a marital property, and that it must be treated as such.
It may be that the judge will order the family home to be sold as part of the dissolution. This often happens when the house represents a too heavy financial burden for the divided family to maintain. In cases like this, both spouses will be fully aware of the sale. Moreover, they may both be entitled to an equitable distribution of the proceeds from the sale.
Work with a Great Divorce Lawyer to Be Sure…
Unfortunately, some people do think that they have the right to sell a marital home without the consent of their soon-to-be-former spouse. This is rarely the case, and most New York judges will put a stop to any sales as soon as they learn of the situation. If you are concerned that your spouse may try to sell the family home without your knowledge, contact the Hudson Valley attorneys at Klein & Sanchez. These seasoned practitioners help families understand the division of property in New York, and they can also put a stop to a house sale that your spouse may be planning.