Representing Divorcing Sellers
October 11, 2019
Author: Kreg Wagner (UAR)
Over the years, I have had a familiar scenario come up that goes something like this. An ex-wife just recently finalized her divorce with her ex-husband. The divorce decree states that the ex-wife is awarded the home. The ex-wife wants to sell it and contacts you to list it. However, both of the exes are on title.
Who signs the listing agreement and who signs the purchase contract?
My answer is the same to both these questions. Both the ex-husband and ex-wife must sign the listing agreement and the purchase contract. Why? Because both of the exes are on title. It is as simple as that.
Now, what happens if the ex-wife accepts an offer from a buyer, but the ex-husband refuses to sign? My answer would be that the ex-wife is not under contract. Utah courts are definitive that ALL parties on title must sign the purchase agreement to form a contract to sell when the property is held in joint tenancy. If this is the case, then it is the ex-wife’s responsibility to petition the court to enforce the divorce decree against her ex-husband if he continues to be uncooperative.
I want to be very clear that your role as a licensee is not to help one party enforce the divorce decree against the other. Again, that responsibility falls on the parties, who should counsel with their respective attorneys. Representing divorcing couples can be difficult for REALTORS. My advice would be to set clear expectations upfront so that all parties understand what you can and can’t do.
If you have any questions about joint tenancy or title issues, feel free to call the UAR’s Legal Hotline at 801-676-5211 on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.