My spouse and I are getting divorced and I want to sell the family home. I owned it before we got married, so why does my spouse need to be involved?

Splitting assets during a divorce can be a complicated matter, and selling the family home is no exception. While your question revolves around selling your home because of divorce, the information could also be useful for a failed business partnership that involves the sale of real estate.

One of the first steps you may want to take is hiring a lawyer to help you through the process.Having expert advice will help inform you of your options and rights, and guide you towards choices that are appropriate for you.

If your spouse does not agree to sell the home, you’ll need the guidance and advice of your lawyer to understand what options are available to you.

If selling the family home is the chosen path for you both, there are a few factors you should consider before you decide which approach to take.

Is the divorce amicable or contentious? Are you and your spouse committed to working together to get the home sold? Or is it a contested divorce where communication is strained or conflicted?

Your first option is for both you and your spouse to be represented by a single brokerage. As far as optics go with buyers, this will look like a typical sale. Doing so may help showcase your home in the best way possible to attract buyers and negotiate a favourable selling price.

If working together comes with challenges, you can ask to work with two representatives from the same brokerage, with each of you working with a different salesperson. Alternatively, you can each be represented by a separate brokerage. The two brokerages would have to agree to work together to co-list your property.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to remember the basics of selling a home. Take the time to meet with several real estate professionals and ask them about their experience and proposed strategy for selling your home. Remember, this is going to be that objective person you both have to be able to work with for a positive result. Just don’t expect them to be the peace keeper.

It’s also a good idea to be upfront about your situation. You’ll want to establish clear expectations about how the sale will be handled and the involvement levels of both you and your spouse.

When it comes time to sign the listing agreement, be sure that all the details you discussed verbally are put into writing. Ask your representative to include in the agreement a detailed breakdown of services they’ll provide; be sure it covers your needs. You’ll also want to ensure that you understand all of the clauses included in the agreement, before signing. If something is unclear, ask questions and take the time to properly understand the entire agreement. If you have two brokerages involved with the sale, you’ll want to clearly define the responsibilities of each brokerage. For example, which one will be responsible for conducting showings?

There are often many moving pieces and emotions when selling a home and that will likely be amplified when selling during a divorce, even an amicable one. Having knowledgeable professionals guiding you through the process will help you navigate an otherwise difficult situation.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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