The Benefits of Selling the House Before vs. After a Virginia Divorce

By: John Whitbeck


Naturally, if it is your first time going through a divorce, you probably have hundreds of questions on your mind. While alimony and child support probably occupy a fair share of your thoughts, other important questions that you should ask yourself are: “What happens to our marital home?” “Should I sell it before or after the divorce?” “Would I make more money selling it now or after the divorce is finalized?”

The only way to get accurate answers that would be appropriate for your circumstances is by talking to a Virginia divorce attorney.

Can You Sell Your Marital Residence Before or After Divorce?    

The decision to sell the house is a big deal. Your home may feel like the only place on Earth where you truly feel relaxed, or it may be your first big purchase since becoming an adult. Either way, quite a few emotional and financial considerations are attached to the decision to sell your house.    

For other people, the decision to sell the marital residence comes easy because it is full of bad memories; keeping the house would mean continually reminding yourself of your former spouse.

Most couples in Virginia own their houses jointly. Suppose your home was an asset purchased during the marriage. In that case, it is considered a marital residence, making it more difficult to sell the house before or after the divorce if your spouse does not approve of that decision. If your home is marital property, neither you nor your spouse can sell or refinance the house unless there is a signature from both. If there is a premarital agreement, check whether your house is listed as your’s or your spouse’s separate property. There are a few things to consider when selling your house before or after the divorce in Virginia. Speaking to an experienced Virginia divorce attorney can help you consider the options.

Selling the House Before the Divorce    

Here are three reasons why it is a good idea to sell your house before the divorce is final:    

  1. Tax benefits your accountant may be able to advise you about.    
  2. An equal split. Selling the house before the divorce allows both spouses to get an even split if they agree. Keeping the house means that you would have to negotiate during the divorce process and use it as a bargaining chip to reach a consensus on other aspects.    
  3. Less stress. By selling your house before the divorce, you avoid the stressful and exhausting situation of having to do this after the divorce.    

Selling the House After the Divorce    

However, the decision to sell the house after the divorce has benefits of its own:   

  1. A higher property value. The value of property in Virginia and elsewhere in the U.S. normally increases as time goes on, meaning that you can get more money from selling your house if you choose to wait until after the divorce is finalized.    
  2. No surprises. By selling the house after the divorce, you will not catch anyone off guard, including your current/former spouse. After all, selling a marital residence after the divorce is a normal practice.    
  3. Somewhere to live. Keep in mind that you need somewhere to live during the divorce.

Waiting until the divorce is finalized allows you to have a place where you can live.

If you still have not decided whether to sell your house before or after the divorce, consult our Virginia divorce attorney.

If you need assistance with your Virginia divorce, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or by emailing clientservices@wblaws.com.

To learn more about divorce, visit our Divorce Law page.

Related: Divorce

John Whitbeck

John Whitbeck


John C. Whitbeck, Jr. is the founder of WhitbeckBennett. His practice focuses on family law, special education law, and mental health law. He regularly practices in several jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia area. He has also been certified as an expert witness in litigation.


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