Law talk: Ex-husband tries to block sale of house

Posted10/9/2011 12:01 AM

Q. My husband and I were divorced in 2004. I was able to stay in the house with our children. I have made all the mortgage and tax payments. Our divorce decree says I must sell when our youngest child graduates high school, which is a few years away. When I sell, we split the equity in the house 65 percent to me and 35 percent to him.

For various reasons, I must sell the house now. I told my ex. However, he does not want to sell now due to the lousy market and would rather wait until prices come up. He says he will refuse to sign any documents to sell the house.

Do I have any options?

A. This is more of a family law issue rather than real estate law; however, I will offer some advice. I would start by contacting your divorce attorney and get his or her thoughts. What ultimately determines your options here though is your written judgment for dissolution of marriage.

In most cases where one party retains possession of the former marital residence, that party has the option of retaining the property until a certain date, such as when the youngest child graduates high school. That party usually also has the option of selling or refinancing the property anytime prior to that date.

If this is how your judgment is written and your ex-husband won't cooperate, a motion in front of the family law judge should solve your problems.

Q. I live in a condominium community and our real estate taxes have been going up like crazy. It is getting to the point that I'm not sure I can continue to live here.

Our management company sent around a letter from a law firm that is asking to represent the entire community in reducing our taxes. They will charge us based upon how much money they save us. We can choose to be included or not included, but I must decide very soon.

I am a little scared to get involved in this as I'm afraid to sign up for something when I don't know the cost. Have you heard of this and do you think it's safe?

A. Law firms representing entire communities is common and, in your case, probably very safe. You indicate the correspondence came from your management company. I think it is safe to presume the management company has done a reasonable investigation into the law firm's proposal and has determined that electing to be included would be to each owner's benefit. Many law firms practice exclusively in this area and are generally successful in obtaining reductions in assessed valuations, which usually leads to lower real estate tax bills.

• Send your questions to attorney Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by email to or call (847) 359-8983.