Is the home you bought with your spouse the most valuable asset to divide during your divorce? Make sure you claim your ownership interest.
You and your ex must handle the division of property as ordered.
If you and your ex both get a share of the house you may need to refinance or sell it to distribute equal value. When one spouse gets the house in the settlement, you need a quitclaim deed to transfer ownership.
Not removing a name from the deed after divorce creates problems. For example, you can’t get a home-equity loan or sell the property without full ownership.
Keep reading to learn how to delete your ex-spouse’s name and gain control of your property.
Dividing Real Estate After Divorce
Real estate transfers need a deed. There are certain steps to transferring the property title into your name alone.
Complete the following steps:
- Look at the divorce decree. Determine who gets the real estate according to the settlement.
- Get a copy of the prior deed to the property. What names are on the deed? If both names are on the deed proceed to the next step. You won’t need a new deed if the only name on the existing deed is that of the person awarded the property.
- Get a new deed to transfer the property as decided by the divorce decree. See information on a quitclaim deed below.
- Submit the new deed to your city or county land records office.
- Keep a copy of the recorded deed. This proves you own the property. Keep the copy in a safe place. You’ll need it if you sell the property or use it for collateral.
Transfer the Title with a Quitclaim Deed
When you sign a quitclaim deed you give up any claim or rights to the property. There’s no money exchange or warranty. That’s why they’re only used between people who know and trust each other.
If there are several owners, consider a warranty deed. A warranty deed prevents challenges to ownership later. It indicates the transferring party’s right to make a change to the ownership.
Take care of the quitclaim deed as soon as possible. Do it while information about the divorce is in front of mind and all parties are nearby.
After a divorce, ex-spouses may remarry or move away. Everyone assumes the property’s divided until one spouse needs to sell or refinance.
If the property isn’t divided or transferred, you must track down your ex later to get their signature. That can be expensive and/or painful on an emotional level.
Removing a Name From the Deed After Divorce
The deed to the property determines how to hold and transfer ownership.
If both spouses hold the title as joint tenants, they both own the house. Ownership as tenants in common means each person can sell their half of the house.
They don’t need the other person’s permission. But, it’s hard to sell half a house.
Spouses who are joint-owners each have an interest in the entire property. To take an ex off the deed you should transfer the entire property to the spouse who keeps the property.
Some people make the mistake of transferring one-half interest in the property. That isn’t how co-ownership of real estate works in every state.
Avoid problems by conveying the entire property from one spouse to the other. Both spouses should sign the quitclaim deed.
This ends questions about homestead or community property rights. It assures third parties a property transfer won’t need extra consents.
A quitclaim doesn’t relieve either spouse from an existing mortgage obligation.
If your name is still on the mortgage, you’re liable for paying it. Don’t sign a quitclaim deed until your name is off the joint mortgage.
Some divorce settlements include an indemnity clause for mortgage payments. If not, revisit your divorce lawyer to release the ex-spouse from the commitment.
Reference Divorce Decree in the Quitclaim Deed
It’s a good idea to reference the divorce decree when creating your quitclaim deed. It records the fact that the division of property connects to a divorce.
Include information on the final divorce decree including the decree number and date.
When you refinance or sell the property you have an official record of the chain of title. This can help speed up the loan or sale.
Enforcing a Quitclaim Deed
One spouse can’t make another to sign a quitclaim deed. You need a court order or divorce decree.
A divorcee decree stating one person receives the property is legally binding. If an ex doesn’t cooperate, the case can go back to court.
A judge can order the uncooperative spouse to meet the terms of the decree or face prison time for contempt.
Community Property Equals Joint Ownership
Things are different in community property states like California. If you buy the house during your marriage both parties have an ownership interest. This holds true even if only one name is on the deed or mortgage.
Selling community property is easy if everyone agrees. One spouse signs the deed as a grantor for the house sale to proceed.
If you own the house before the marriage, it’s not part of the divorce settlement. But, if a spouse’s income helps pay the mortgage, taxes, and repairs for the house there’s a fair claim to the title.
Alternative Divorce Laws
Divorce laws vary by state. In some states, a divorce court can transfer property ownership without a new deed.
In Maryland, a divorce court can transfer title to a property with the consent of the mortgage holder. The spouse receiving the property files the divorce decree with the county clerk.
Check your state’s title transfer requirements.
Create Security with Full Ownership
Removing a name from the deed after divorce is the only way to make sure you own the entire property.
The signed and recorded quitclaim deed means the home belongs to one spouse. The other spouse no longer has any interest in the property.
Full ownership means you can sell or refinance the house to suit your post-divorce needs.