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Forcing the sale of a jointly owned property

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  • Forcing the sale of a jointly owned property

    Kia ora,

    I am looking at the various options I have to sell my share of a jointly owned property with my ex wife.

    A little back story. When we got married, her parents gifted their family home to us and we took over the mortgage. Prior to owning the property, we had lived there in a decision facto relationship for three/four years as tenants. While married, I incurred debt in the form of an HRV and whiteware and appliances for the property.

    We separated a little after a year of marriage and we were legally divorced three years ago, three years after we separated. During that time I have contributed nothing towards the property.

    Recently, I have tried to organise the sale of the property, in order to pay off my remaining debt tied to the relationship. Last year, my ex wife sold everything in the house and found a buyer for the property as she was moving overseas, but pulled the sale as she did not not want to pay me the amount I was asking for, which is around the 10,000 dollar amount.

    I have now decided to approach her again with the possibility of her or someone from her family buying my share of the property for 10,000 dollars, instead of selling the property altogether. She has basically danced around the entire conversation and given me no indication she is interested in buying me out, which has led me to looking at forcing a sale of the property.

    Am I able to force a sale? Even selling the house, I am only asking for enough to pay the debts tied to the property and she would get the remainder.

    Estimated financials:
    Value of property: 130,000
    Mortgage: 60,000
    My debt: 10,000

    I am trying to get this done by the end of the year and have no issues with forcing a sale if I have to. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    walk away my friend, you can make 10k in the time you will spend on this. you got rent free for 4 years? Gift the dollars to a charity?

    what was determined at the divorce settlement?

    small claims tribunal?


    • #3
      1) What legal advice did you get at the time you got divorced?
      2) Debt incurred during a relationship/marriage is likely to be joint debt in the same way that the house (and contents, cars, cash etc) are joint matrimonial property
      3) You needed to have sorted the financials out as at the time that you formally separated i.e. SIX years ago. That is when the value of all assets and debt needed to be ascertained. Do you have a statement of all that information? Eg what were the matrimonial assets at that point? What was the value of the house and debt and all other assets (cash) you each had including Kiwisaver? It is likely to be impossible to come up with figures now that everyone can agree to because of the length of time that has gone past, and there also may not be a legal way to go back to revisit this anyway since you are now actually divorced and everything should have been finalised at that point.
      4) You need specific legal advice from an experienced practitioner as to what (if any) legal options you have.
      5) and THEN, should you discover you do have legal options, you have to decide how much you want to spend on legal fees and emotional energy, how far you want to take this, and whether the impact going through the process will have on you is worth it. I wouldn't do it myself.

      Free yourself up to concentrate on paying of the remaining debt, move on and look forward into the future, and take the learnings onboard from this as a life lesson never to repeat.

      Good luck!


      • #4
        Originally posted by John the builder View Post

        walk away my friend,
        Totally agree with John. Let it go and do it with a smile, not in bitterness. Happily and proudly tell your ex-wife that you are gifting her the money, it will return to you ten fold in time.


        • #5
          Ask her to take over the debt and then let her do with the property what she wishes.
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          • #6
            I would be inclined to make the offer suggested, and say that if not accepted you will block any sale at any time unless you are paid out half plus half the notional rent for your share in the meantime. And that you will setting your share up to eventually pass to the beneficiaries you choose, and they will own half the property plus a debt for the share of rent.

            Take legal advice first.

            If the $10,000 offer is not accepted get your lawyer to formalise, and then start sending invoices for rent, less your share of agreed outgoings. Like, make sure you are only liable for agreed maintenance, not improvements unless agreed prior in wiring, or you might get a big bill for half of a new kitchen or garage or top story!

            I would say you are likely to get your 10k sooner rather than later.

            Also as joint owner you are entitled to enter to inspect your asset.


            • #7
              I'm afraid the Property (Relationships) Act wouldn't be helpful in this setting, as "an application made after a marriage or civil union has been dissolved by an order dissolving the marriage or civil union must be made before the expiry of the period of 12 months after the date on which that order takes effect as a final order" (s24(1)(a)).

              If it were not for the time limit above, I believe you are actually entitled to half the family home and half of every 'relationship property'- as you are technically in a marriage of >3 years (de facto relationship immediately preceding a marriage counts as one continuous period of marriage, - see Section 2B)...

              Maybe worth having an initial visit with a lawyer, to see if you can work around the time limit. If yes, you actually have a lot to gain. But if not, then maybe quit early to prevent excessive mounting charges.

              (I'm not a lawyer, merely making the statements from my understanding of the Act)


              • #8
                I would talk to a lawyer who specialises in this area, so that you understand your legal position. I wouldn't be surprised if you are entitled to half of the assets.

                But also as others say, be careful that $10k can be eaten up really quickly in time, effort and legal bills!

                Book a free chat here
                Ross Barnett - Property Accountant


                • #9
                  Why wouldn't you be entitled to 50% of the assets minus the liabilities? I thought that was the deal - after 2 years in defacto. And the legal separation and divorce handled by lawyers would have worked this out - I must be missing something.


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                  • #10
                    Personally, I would feel that I shouldn't take half of the house as it came from the in-laws' hard work (but yes, half of any gains from during the marriage, including mortgage principal paid). But it's a damned good threat!
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