Do You Have to Sell Shared Property When You Get Divorced?

Going through a divorce is difficult emotionally, mentally, and financially. 

When you have worked hard to build up significant assets with your spouse, you’re going to want to make sure your share is protected. 

One asset that many couples have is property, the division of which can get complicated. 

The situation divorcing spouses find themselves in is wondering whether they need to sell or if they can choose to split the properties between them. 

Equitable distribution of assets

Utah law requires property to be distributed “equitably” between spouses in the event of a divorce. To put this simply, it means making sure each party is treated fairly which doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split. 

A court will take into account factors such as the length of the marriage, future needs, contributions of each party, and whether the property was bought before or after marriage. 

Marital vs Non-Marital property

Utah courts treat property bought before and during marriage differently. 

As a general rule, any property bought outside of marriage, and kept separate throughout, is treated as non-marital and is therefore not subject to asset division. 

As a result, any property in your joint portfolio that was bought by either spouse before marriage does not usually need to be subject to divorce and therefore doesn’t need to be sold. 

Ex-spouses are encouraged to reach an agreement

If you can work together to come to an agreement with your ex-partner, there is no law that says the properties need to be sold. For example, if you decide on a fair split, you can choose to divide the portfolio among yourselves. 

Once divorcing spouses have reached a decision they consider fair, they then submit a marital settlement agreement to the court. A judge will still need to approve the agreement, but they have discretion as to their decision and if it’s fair, they will often accept it. 

This means both parties can walk away from the marriage with either a share of the jointly owned properties or an agreement to sell and split the proceeds of the sale. 

If you’re in the early stages of the divorce process, working with a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional will help you to make sure your rights are protected when separating jointly owned property.