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Can I Sell My Vacation Home During the Pendency of a Divorce?

Property values skyrocketed during the COVID 19 pandemic. This is particularly true in vacation spots—such as the Hamptons—as families sought to escape cities in drove. It has been widely reported that “[h]ome sales and rentals on the East End of Long Island picked up at the beginning of the pandemic and are still going strong.” See Marcelle Sussman Fischler, The Hamptons Boom Continues, NY Times, The Hamptons Real Estate Sales Boom Continues. Indeed, median sale prices have purportedly increased 31 percent in the Hamptons in the first quarter of 2021 alone. See id.

These unprecedented increases in home prices offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sell a vacation home at a premium. But those in the midst of a divorce in New York may be left on the sidelines without the proper legal guidance.

Under New York law, a divorce court cannot order—over the objection of one spouse—that a marital residence be sold during the pendency of a divorce. Rather, the court can generally only direct the sale of a marital residence upon the entry of a final judgment of divorce. See Kahn v. Kahn, 43 N.Y.2d 203, 210 (1977).

The prohibition against selling a marital home pendente lite (during the pendency of a divorce action) generally applies to principal residences. Courts have explicitly granted a party permission to sell a secondary home—where neither party resided full-time—during the pendency of a case. For example, in Gordon v. Gordon, 144 Misc. 2d 27, 29 (Sup. Ct., N.Y. Cty. 1989), the court granted the husband’s motion to sell a cooperative apartment during the pendency of a case, when the parties had multiple residence and neither resided full-time in the property sought to be sold. Id. Similarly, other courts have granted applications to sell marital homes pendente lite in order to preserve marital assets. See, e.g., Lidsky v. Lidsky, 134 Misc. 2d 511 (Sup Ct, Westchester Cty. 1986); St. Angelo v. St. Angelo, 130 Misc. 2d 583 (Sup Ct, Suffolk Cty. 1985).

Hence, with proper legal representation and appropriate arguments, those going through a divorce may still be able to take advantage the unprecedented increase in home prices by filing an application to sell a secondary or vacation home. For more information, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Andrew T. Coyle. 

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