Selling a home can be fraught with emotion under the best of circumstances, but add the dissolution of a marriage into the mix and you can really complicate the process. The role of “mediator” is one a Realtor can probably relate to, as it’s a hat they frequently find themselves wearing. This excellent blog posting discusses family law mediation, and how that process can help people avoid some of the common pitfalls of selling a home during a divorce.
Here’s a scenario: the divorce is finally settled, and the judge’s decree has the couple splitting the proceeds from the sale of the family home 50/50. Great. Who decides who gets to choose the Realtor? Should they stage the house or not? Do upgrades to prepare, or sell as is? How will they settle on a price? When they get an offer, what if the couple can’t agree on whether to take it? These disagreements could go on and on indefinitely unless they are set out in the divorce decree. But a judge is not a Realtor — and even the savviest jurist can’t predict every issue a couple might face while selling the family home.
This is where working with a mediator could be helpful. During mediation, an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between the parties to promote settlement and understanding without imposing her own judgment on the issues. In this scenario, the mediator would assist the couple in negotiating the detailed terms of the sale and (ideally) eliminate the need to go back to court. If they have to return to court, that will cost considerably more time and money, likely causing further damage to their relationship, which impacts not just them if they have children together. In the most extreme post-divorce real estate disputes, the judge might appoint a disinterested third party called a Receiver to oversee the sale of the property without any input from the couple.