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How Can Property Be Sold When One Spouse Disagrees?

Just because you and your spouse get along famously does not mean you will always agree. In fact, disagreements are inevitable in every relationship. Sometimes they are minor. Sometimes they are not so minor. For example, what if one spouse wants to sell a property and the other doesn’t? Can one spouse just go ahead and sell the property without the other’s permission? Or is it a stalemate?

For California couples, the answer is tricky. Read on to learn why.

California is a community property state

California is a community property state. This means any property obtained during the marriage is considered marital property. Legally, all marital property belongs to both spouses. Therefore, there are strict rules about the disposition of these belongings. There are also certain exceptions to the rules.

Rules for management and control of marital property

State laws pertaining to management and control of marital property can be found in Sections 1100 through 1103 of the Family Code.

To begin with, Section 1100(b) prohibits one spouse from gifting or otherwise disposing of community personal property “for less than fair and reasonable value” without written consent from the other.  There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is if both spouses agree to give such property to someone else. The second is if one spouse gives such property to the other.

Section 1100(c) also prohibits a spouse from selling, conveying or encumbering community personal property used as the family dwelling without the other’s written consent.

The exceptions to the rules

Basically, all of this means that as long as your spouse’s name appears on the title of the property, he or she is considered a co-owner. As such, his or her rights to the property are the same as yours and you cannot sell the property without his or her permission. You must both relinquish your claims on the property’s title prior to sale or transfer. Furthermore, the sale cannot occur unless you and your spouse agree to the asking price and other relevant terms.

However, this does not necessarily mean you can never sell property without your spouse’s permission.

You do not need your husband’s or wife’s permission to sell property if:

  • You can prove that you obtained the property before you got married and his or her name is not on the title.
  • He or she is unable or unwilling to attend the sale and you can obtain power of attorney that allows you to consent to the sale for him or her.
  • He or she is not legally capable of agreeing to the sale of the property in question.
  • He or she surrenders ownership by signing a quitclaim or grant deed.
  • The sale is deemed to be in both of your best interests.
  • Your spouse does not have a valid reason to disagree.

Remember, you cannot take matters into your own hands. Acting without getting proper legal advice may hinder your ability to sell the property in question. Specifically, your spouse could argue that you tried to force him or her into relinquishing his or her rights to the property. He or she could also accuse you of coercing him or her to agree to sell the property. To avoid any unnecessary complications, call LawPLA or contact us through our website.


PLEASE NOTE: This is not a representation, warranty, or guarantee of a future result or outcome. Every case is different just like every one of our clients.