A few weeks ago, I drove past a billboard displaying an engagement ring right next to a wedding ring. The two rings formed the two o’s for the word “oops.” It was an advertisement for a divorce attorney. It was much more entertaining than the billboard I drove past several weeks ago which advertised a deal for divorces; buy one, get one half off! Frankly, that’s a pretty good savings.

Divorce happens. It is sad, horrible for all involved, and unfortunate. However, when it comes to a point where nailing Jell-O to a wall is easier than speaking to one another, many decide that it is time to throw in the proverbial towel. When this happens, change is inevitable for everyone involved. One of these changes, frequently requires the sale of a home.

In the state of Utah, the law requires a fair and equitable division of marital property. This does not mean that one party gets the outside of the home while the other gets the inside. This may be equal, but it is not fair and equitable. The division of assets can be complicated and expensive. In fact, it may cost the total of the marital assets to pay the attorney … who, let’s face it, is the only real winner in a divorce (present company excluded, of course).

A fair amount of many a productive and experienced realtors’ business is due to this horrible turn of events. Having gone through this, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. However, having gone through this, I also know how stress-inducing, disconcerting, messy and daunting the entire process can be. So many emotions can be overwhelming at one time, and then a court order comes in to sell the marital home.

This is not an ideal time to try your hand at real estate. If you think that Jell-O was difficult to nail to a wall before, try selling your home, on your own “together.” In fact, if you can both agree on a realtor, you have accomplished more than most. After telling the ousted spouse to come get their stuff from the grocery sack in the driveway, most people can move forward with staging the home to get the most out of their home to equitably divide.

The last home I sold due to a court order in a divorce situation, I was the sole person that each party was communicating with. After meeting one party to sign listing papers, I scheduled a different time and place to meet the other parties to sign the same papers. Any adjustments to price, description, and negotiations, had to be agreed upon by both parties, at separate times. We did get it sold, and we did get each of the party’s stuff out of the home, separately, but it required some forethought, planning, and hours of consulting separately with each party.

As realtors, we often wear a variety of hats. In this case, we, often get to listen to details from each party about how difficult the other was to live with and whose fault it was. At times, we hear far more than we would ever wish to hear. Most of the time, all the information is irrelevant to the sale of the home. Yet, at the same time, each has their own story, and each needs validation of their story. We listen, we keep it confidential, we try to avoid forming an opinion, and we are glad when the home does sell so that each party can move forward; hopefully, into a new space, to begin creating a new “normal.”

Nothing about this is easy. For some, it’s more relief than pain. For others, it takes years to begin again. Rest assured, however, there is always something to be gleaned from every experience; even this one.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com

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