You may be in the unfortunate situation where your husband or wife is in jail or prison and need to sell your matrimonial home. You may be wondering whether being in prison somehow changes a person’s rights to a share in your property. It is understanding these rights that are important when looking at whether you can sell your house if your husband or wife is in jail.
You can only sell your house if your husband or wife is in jail if they agree to the sale. Your spouse’s rights don’t change simply because they are behind bars. But if you can get their agreement to sign the legal paperwork you will be able to sell the house even if they are in prison.
Does a prison sentence change ownership rights over property?
A prison sentence doesn’t change the legal ownership of property. Which means that if your husband or wife is serving a prison sentence, they are still entitled to their share of the property. Which means they will have to approve the sale and sign any necessary legal documents to approve the sale. But what is your position if your husband or wfie don’t agree to the sale?
Selling a jointly owned property at the best of times can be stressful. But if the other legal owner doesn’t agree to the sale this increases the stress levels even further.
Can you force the sale of a jointly owned property when one of the owners are in prison?
When your incarcerated spouse does not agree to the sale of your house you can make an application to a court for an order for sale. Once the the order for sale has been granted by the court the non-incarcerated spouse can force for the sale of the jointly owned property.
But be aware the legal process to obtain a court order for a forced house sale takes time. It can also be very expensive too. You are best advised to seek mediation where possible. But the fact that your husband or wife are in jail will make any mediation process more difficult.
Can inmates sign legal documents
An inmate can sign legal documents. But you need to consider whether the document needs to be witnessed by an independent witness. If you are trying to have legal documents signed by a spouse who’s in prison it is better to enquire about the prison facility’s restrictions regarding such processes beforehand.
But of course your husband or wife who’s in jail must agree to signing the legal documents too.
What happens to the proceeds of a house sale when your spouse is in prison?
The proceeds on the sale of your house that is in joint names will be paid to the joint owners. This can be done as one payment into a joint bank account. Or the net equity or proceeds of sale can be split into two payments. If your spouse is in jail they may or may not be okay for the net proceeds to be paid into a joint bank account.
If your spouse wants the money paid into a separate bank they can. There is no specific rules will stops anyone from opening a bank account whilst they are in prison.
Final thoughts on can you sell your house if your husband is in jail
Having a husband or wife in jail will make selling your house more difficult. This is especially more difficult if you decide to get divorced too. The process of selling your house becomes more cumbersome.
Be aware that the ownership of property many be affected in cases where the property was purchased using proceeds of fraud or other illegal means. But assuming this isn’t the case and your husband or wife is in prison for other reasons you may wish to seek help.
But be aware that if you have a mortgage you will need to keep up payments on this mortgage. If you stop paying your mortgage you may have the house repossessed by the bank.
If you are struggling to pay the mortgage you should speak with your mortgage company.
You may also be having difficultly with paying utilities bills and any other bills associated with the house. If your spouse or partner is in prison you can seek help from government organisations like Turn2Us.
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