Can I sue my ex-husband for half the equity in our house?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I sue my ex-husband for half the equity in our house?

My ex-husband and I own a home together. I went bankrupt so I’m not on the

note but I’m still on the deed. He keeps saying that he is going to buy me out but

he never follows through. My divorce papers just say that my ex-husband will remain in the house. We had a verbal agreement that I will get half the proceeds when the house was sold. It has been 9 years and I would like to know what my legal rights are.

Asked on October 1, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An oral agreement--that is the correct term, not "verbal," for an unwritten agreement--for a future sale and share of the proceeds of the house is not enforceable: in your state, under what is known as the "statute of frauds," an agreement which was not specified to be performed within one year must be in writing to be enforceable. Since he was not obligated to sell in one year, the agreement had to be in writing.
As a general matter, however, if two people own real estate together and cannot agree as to what to do with it, one of them can bring a legal action (lawsuit) traditionally called an action "for partition" (your state may have a different term for it) in which you ask the court to order the sale of the real estate and the proceeds (after paying the mortgage, any liens, and cost of sale) be divided among the owners. This is the law's recourse or solution for owners where one wants the money from the property and the other wants to keep the property--it forces a sale, so they each get their share and go their separate ways.
HOWEVER, you are also bound by the terms of your divorce: you cannot force a sale if it's already been determined that your husband gets to stay in/live in the home, since a sale of the property would violate that existing settlement or court determination.
You are advised to bring a copy of the divorce papers to a lawyer to review with you, to understand your rights and options.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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