Real Estate Law
Have Real Estate Law Questions? Ask a Real Estate Lawyer.
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.
You have the ability to bring what is called a "Petition for Partition by Sale." What that means is, you're asking a judge to issue an order that the house be sold the proceeds split 50/50. The sister would never be entitled to more than that unless your wife got more than half the house in the divorce decree. (Note that if you got the whole house in the divorce, the sister is entitled to nothing.) She can be required to sign any papers necessary, to assist with showings, and to otherwise not delay or hold up the sale. She can also be ordered to buy you out if she can afford to do so.
There really isn't a defense for this sort of thing. The government set it up so two people couldn't be required to keep on owning a house together when one person wanted to sell it. So the house will eventually be sold. You just may have to go to court to get it done.
Another option is to send her a letter, via certified mail, explaining that if you have to sue her, you're going to ask a judge to order her to pay your filing fees, and giving her an opportunity to cooperate before that happens. Sometimes that can help.
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