Going through a divorce is hard enough, but if you do not take the necessary steps to get your divorced spouse off of the property title, divorce decree or not, he is still part owner. You have several things you have to do to legally remove your ex-spouse from the property title if that is what was determined in court. It is not enough for the judge to say that the property is yours, though, – you take the following steps.
Make it Official
The first step after winning the rights to the marital property in court is to remove your spouse from the loan. He will likely have an interest in this as well since he does not want to be held liable for this debt any longer. The easiest way to remove him from the loan is to refinance. If you can qualify for a loan on your own, you can make this process very simple. Start by shopping around for the best programs, interest rates, and closing costs, and then you can see which programs you might qualify to receive.
Once you refinance, you can quitclaim your ex-spouse off of the deed. You do not want to do this process in the opposite order because if the spouse with rights to the property cannot refinance on his own, the ex-spouse without rights is still obligated on the mortgage. Once the mortgage is refinanced, a quitclaim deed can be drawn up, which legally transfers the rights of the property from both parties to just one party.
The Catch 22
It is very important that you do not overlook the need to refinance. If your ex-spouse with the rights to the property claims he/she cannot refinance, do not quitclaim yourself off of the title. You cannot undo a quitclaim deed. Once you sign the document that removes you from the title of the property, you are removed. You are, however, still obligated to pay the loan should your ex-spouse default on it. If down the road your ex-spouse decides to sell the home, you do not have any rights to the profit from the sale unless you take him to court. This is why it is so important to make sure you are off of the loan before you sign a quitclaim deed.
Forcing a Divorced Spouse to Get off of the Title
It is not possible to force anyone to remove themselves from the title unless you have a court order to do so. In this case, it would be detailed in the divorce decree, which everyone is obliged to follow. If the spouse that is required to remove himself from the home refuses, he can be taken to court. There are serious legal consequences for those that refuse to follow along with the order of the decree.
Seek Legal Counsel
It is always recommended that you receive legal counsel before trying to remove your divorced spouse from the property title. Even if you qualify for a new loan and refinance it out of the joint names and into your own, an attorney will make sure everything goes smoothly. Because the marital house is often the largest asset in a marriage, it warrants taking the extra step to make sure everything is done right.
For example, the quitclaim deed is an official document that must be signed in front of an official, such as a notary public. You cannot have your spouse sign it in his own privacy and assume that the county will record it as such. You have to have witnesses to the signature because of what is at stake here. These are the details an attorney will watch over and ensure that nothing is overlooked.
Getting a divorced spouse off of the property title is not impossible, but it could be a lengthy process. You want to make sure that you are handling the entire process the right way so that there are no loopholes down the road that give your ex-spouse rights. If the court did not order that the property be awarded to one partner or the other, it is important that you go to court and determine who is entitled to it before you start to make any changes.