Can I make spouse sell house?

I have been married to my wife for 17 years and want a divorce. We haven’t ‘done’ anything yet but i want to get a separation agreement in place, and move from the house.

My wife refuses to sell the house (both our names on the title) and i don’t currently have the funds to take care of the mortgage and pay rent on an apartment. let alone doing that for a year.

What can be done - if anything - to make her agree to selling the house as part of the separation? My wife works and have an income so she will be able to get a home of her own plus she will get half of the house value.

I read the circumstances around Divorce from Bed and Board, but i don’t think any of the reasons apply in this except for maybe making the situation ‘intolerable or life overly burdensome’. What level of ‘proof’ is needed to make a case like that, and is it the right action?


I’m not sure… but I’d also like to know.

The best option in your case may be to attend mediation to reach an out-of-court settlement on all issues via a separation agreement. With the help of a mediator trained in dispute resolution, the two of you may be able to reach an agreement on the future of the marital residence and any other issues.

If mediation is unsuccessful, then you will have to separate and file a court action for equitable distribution (plus any other claims that apply in your case). This would give you access to a judge who could order what would happen to the marital residence. Note that there is no requirement that you attend mediation prior to filing litigation.

Divorce from Bed and Board forces a physical separation based on one or more fault grounds. It will not address the issue of equitable distribution and whether or not to sell the marital residence. For any fault ground, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the events testified to actually occurred. Proving the fault ground of indignities that render a spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome is very fact-specific but generally such indignities must be willful and intentional, and without provocation by the spouse claiming this fault ground.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

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