It’s common to enter complete a divorce before a marital residence is sold, but it’s important to be specific about the terms of the sale including when the house will be sold and how to determine the sale price.  Here’s a case that illustrate why.

In Vara v. Vara, ___ S.W.3d ___, No. 08-17-00101-CV, 2018 WL 4001869 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2018, no pet. h.) The divorce decree included a provision that the parties’ home would be sold, and its proceeds would be divided between the parties equally. The decree required a listing agreement be signed by a date certain and that the parties sell the house at a mutually agreeable price. Husband was responsible for the mortgage payments, and Wife had the exclusive right to use the premises. Needless to say, the Wife had little incentive to sell the house. A subsequent enforcement hearing was necessary and the Wife sought damages on the grounds that she did not agree to the price the house was ultimately sold at and her plan had been to lease the house for 27 years and the house would be also be worth several million dollars at that time.

The appellate court sided with the husband finding the Wife’s right to use the house until closing did not give her the unilateral power to block the sale of the home until 2036.

This of course seems like an obvious result, but the failure to be specific about the sale price forced the Husband into protracted litigation and allowed the Wife to hold in the house far longer than I presume he ever intended.