May 30, 2023

Needham, MA--In volatile market conditions such as what we’re experiencing now, real estate professionals often find themselves taking on more complex transactions. We at Kriss Law/Atlantic Closing & Escrow pride ourselves on being a resource for clients no matter how challenging the matter. One of the more challenging issues we find our clients running into over and over arises from property sales after divorce.

When a property is being sold due to a divorce, extra due diligence is needed on the part of the real estate agents on both sides of the deal, as well as by the professionals handling the title, closing and escrow.

Because of the legal tangle that can result from a property held by two people who are undergoing a divorce, getting an attorney involved from the outset can protect the homebuyer from getting caught up in the tug of war when it comes to the property sale and offer enhanced legal insight to prevent challenges to your ownership rights after the sale by either party involved in the divorce.

Here are some things your attorney will home in on to protect your ownership rights.

Buying a house before a divorce

If a couple who has decided to divorce puts the property on the market before entering into divorce proceedings, the buyer may not even be aware of the impending divorce and the sale may well go forward as a normal sale without incident.

However, if the real estate agent representing the sellers reveals this information, it’s imperative that the homebuyer consider the possible pitfalls in such a situation.

If the divorce is not amicable, for instance, one or the other spouse could back out of the deal, or deliberately delay the transaction out of spite. It is wise to consult an attorney about adding some language to the contract to offer enhanced protections for the buyers should their transaction get caught up in the fight.

Buying a house during a divorce

If buyers know from the outset that the owners are in the midst of a divorce, it’s imperative that buyers try to discover if the couple is in agreement about the sale or if the proceedings are particularly acrimonious. As mentioned above, putting protective language in the real estate contract can offer some assurance, but there are other circumstances, for instance the existence of a prenuptial agreement, that could complicate the distribution of proceeds after the sale.

Therefore, it is very important that your title agent or title attorney handling the closing be made aware of any extenuating circumstances.

At Kriss Law/Atlantic Escrow & Closing, we pay heightened attention to these transactions to ensure that all parties are on board with the transaction to begin with, including that the sellers have both signed the seller’s agreement.

If the divorce has already been moved into court, there may already exist preliminary agreements about division of property that must be followed at the closing. In fact, the court may actually order the sale of property during the divorce if the couple is unable to come to a mutual agreement on their own. The court often does this to ensure equitable distribution of the property after the sale.

Your AEC agent will actively communicate individually with both owners throughout the process to make sure the transaction is moving forward as planned, that everyone is in agreement with the sale, that court orders are followed to the letter, and finally to ensure both parties are present to sign off on the sale at the close of the transaction.

Buying a house after a divorce

When buying a house after a divorce is finalized, your AEC agent will require the divorce decree be provided prior to the transaction in order to properly direct the sale proceeds as ordered by the court.

This sounds simple, but divorce decrees can be complicated and it’s doubly important that an attorney thoroughly review the decree to ensure there are no liens filed against the property due to unusual financial issues that may have arisen at court during the divorce.

At Kriss Law/Atlantic Closing & Escrow, we have a full range of experienced legal professionals to assist your clients with the most complex details of their real estate transactions. Contact us to learn more about our services and expertise.

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