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Challenging a Court-Ordered Sale of a Marital Residence

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The major goals of divorce are to achieve resolution to marital issues, pave the way for closure, settle legal concerns, and help both spouses transition to independent lives. One thing that pertains to these issues is selling the marital home. If you are concerned that the sale price is too low or the broken commission is too high, there are several legal solutions to these problems. It is important to know, however, that filing the needed paperwork to challenge the proposed sale does not mean that the judge will hold a hearing before they decide on your objection or claim. If you are the spouse proposing the sale of the marital home or challenging it, it would be beneficial to have a Maryland family law attorney to support your claim.

Arthur and Ingrid were a couple who went through a divorce where selling the marital residence became an issue. The judge who presided over their case ordered them to divide everything concerning the sale evenly down the middle. They each would pay half the costs and fees related to the sale and each would receive half of the payment from the sale of the marital residence. An outside trustee was also appointed. Three months later, the trustee reported on completion of the sale. The marital home was appraised at $314,000 and was listed for $340,000. The house sold for $340,000, plus an additional $6,000 to aid the buyer’s closing costs. The realtor who handles the sale transaction also received a 7% commission.

Two weeks later after the conclusion of the sale, Arthur challenged the sale by filing “exceptions to the sale”. He claimed that a second appraisal valued the house at $320,000 and should have fetched a higher listing price. He also argued that the listing price was too low and the buyer’s closing costs and realtor’s commission were too high. However, the trial judge did not agree with him and supported the completion of the sale. Arthur appealed the case but lost. One important thing about this case was an argument that failed to support the husband’s claim. Arthur argued that, upon filing the paperwork challenging the sale of the marital home, the court should have held a hearing. Since the court did not hold a hearing, it would technically rule in his favor.

The appeals court stated that Arthur misinterpreted the Maryland rules. A trial court is required to hold a hearing and accept evidence only if the party’s filing clearly demonstrates that there is a need for the court to take evidence. The decision to determine if there is a need or not depends solely on the discretion of the trial judge. Regarding Arthur’s claim, he was not able to demonstrate proof that the trial judge’s decision to proceed without a hearing was strongly and clearly outside the bounds of acceptable reason.

Arthur also adamantly expressed that, with or without a hearing, the trial judge should have never approved the sale of the marital home. The appeals court disagreed with him. Evidence pointed clearly that the house was facing foreclosure within ninety days, without any evidence that the house had any offers other than the $340,000. It was also more than the $320,00 appraisal price Arthur cited in his argument. Consequently, the sale’s approval and the denial of the hearing was upheld by the appeals court and stood against Arthur’s argument.

You may not realize it, but issues similar to the one above happen quite often. Please do not try to handle something like this by yourself. You will end up costing yourself more money in the long run and creating a ton of unnecessary stress. Schedule a consultation with one of our Maryland divorce attorneys today so we can guide you through this difficult time and help you get your life back on track.

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