How can I sell a house when someone I don’t speak with is on the deed also?

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How can I sell a house when someone I don’t speak with is on the deed also?

I bought a home 3 years ago with money I received from my fathers death. I
apparently thought it was a good idea to put my ex on the deed not married. We
had only been in the house a few months before things didn’t work out and I
kicked her out of the house. I have paid for the home, repairs, taxes, utilities
without her any financial contributions from her. We are not in contact with one
another, and the few times I have reached out to ask if she would sign a quit claim
she refused. I would like to sell the house and am unsure how to proceed.

Asked on January 3, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Actually an action for partition would be the appropriate course to take here. This is a legal remedy available to co-owners of property (either real or personal) when they cannot agree as to ownership matters (e.g. whether or not to sell). Partition allows for the division of the property among the co-owner(s). Accordingly, if a property can be physically divided, a judge will instruct that it be done. However, if division would be impracticable (such as in your case since the property in question is a single family house), the judge would order a "sale in lieu of partition" and an equitable division of the proceeds would be paid to the co-owners. However, before ordering a sale, the judge would permit one co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owner at fair market value. Additionally, in this case, you should request that distributing the proceeds equitably take into account all of the expenses that you alone have made, so that you may be entitled to be reimbursed for such costs.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

When the two owners of a property cannot agree as to what to do with it, one of them can bring an action (a lawsuit) for "partition": that is, a lawsuit asking for the court to order that the property be sold and the proceeds distributed or split between the owners. That is the law's remedy for when you and your co-owner are at an impass. If you want to pursue this remedy, consult with a real estate attorney--an action for partition is more complex than, say, a small claims case, and you want a lawyer to help you with it.


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