What to do about a pre-set sales price regarding the marital home if the market has dramatically declined?

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What to do about a pre-set sales price regarding the marital home if the market has dramatically declined?

I divorced 4 years ago and the home was to be sold. I put it on the market immediately, where it stayed for 3 years. In that time, the value has gone down to the point that there is only $21,000 in equity left. The decree states that the home will be sold for no less than $550,000. Her allocated amount in $105,000. She now wants to take me to court, saying she gets the full amount, and wants it within the next 4 months. She wants to force the sale at $550,000, but no realtor will even list it at that amount. Her name is not on the title and there is no time limit for the sale.

Asked on June 30, 2011 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The problem for you is that contracts and court orders--and a divorce settlement is generally a contract, while a decree, depending on the circumstances, is either a contract or order--are not usually subject to change due to changing market conditions. While you can go to the court and ask them to modify the decree due to changes (you should consult with a divorce attorney about his option), you can't count on the change being made--you'd probably have better luck, by the way, with a court-imposed decree than with something you and your ex-wife mutuallly agreed to.

Assuming you can't get the change, the terms of the decree will stand--you'll need to either list it for at least $550k or sell for less by pony up your own money to give your ex-wife the appropriate amount of proceeds ($105k, from what you write). However, unless there was some date in the decree by which you ex-wife must get her money, she should not be able to force you to pay it over until the home is sold, at least not so long as you can show that you have been making reasonably diligent efforts to market and sell it as per the decree.


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