Forcing spouse to sell house and agree to a divorce

My wife and I have been miserably married for 13 years. We’ve slept in separate beds in separate bedrooms for roughly 11 years, most recently 3 years straight. While we have 2 wonderful children 9 and 11, we otherwise do not have sexual relations and haven’t done so for well over a year and never more than a few times per year for our entire marriage. I desperately want a divorce but she refuses. We own a home together and she refuses to sell it and I won’t move out because of fear she would both destroy the house, one of her many charms, or the court would determine I abandoned her and my sons and I’d lose even more than I’m going to lose already. How can I cause her to sell the house and agree to divorce proceedings when she flatly refuses? I have very little money to fund a lawyer to give me endless advice or process copious amount of paperwork I could at least try to handle on my own. The issue here is she won’t cooperate at all eve though she is fully aware our marriage is in shambles and is wholly irreparable.

Asked on November 25, 2018 under Family Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You don't need her to agree to a divorce: she can't keep you married against your will. However, because she has not given you one of the recognized grounds for a "fault-based" (based on marital misconduct) divorce in your state, like adultry or cruelty, you'd have to go for a no-fault divorce, which starts with living apart for one year.  So start living apart now, and you can divorce a year later.
You can't force a sale of the house until the divorce; in the divorce, the court will decide what to do with it (e.g. force an immediate sale; or let one spouse live in it, with it be sold later (e.g.when children are 18) and proceeds split then; etc.): while still married, one spouse cannot compel the other to sell. So while you shold consult with a family law attorney to make sure you fully understand the divorce process, you also need to move out and live apart to start the process going.


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