California residents who are undergoing a divorce may be aware that the process is fraught with all manner of complications. While the furthest issue from one’s mind may be the finer points of property division, a spouse unwilling to sign over property rights can further complicate an already difficult issue.
Even if one is awarded the marital home in the divorce, a document called a “quitclaim deed” is required for one spouse to take over a mortgage and for the other spouse to fully relinquish property rights. Otherwise, the land records for the home will still reflect that it is jointly owned. Obtaining a signature from the other house on the quitclaim deed is the only way to acquire sole ownership of a jointly-owned home, and it is possible that the other partner will be unwilling to sign it. One’s divorce attorney, however, may be able to obtain a court order from the judge in order to get the other party to sign; if he or she still refuses, a separate deed may be issued on his or her behalf by the court as a last resort.
Once the deed is signed and recorded, it may be presented to one’s lender to demonstrate sole ownership, and the loan will be turned over to that spouse. Sometimes, getting the other spouse to sign may be as easy as informing him or her that doing so will effectively release him or her from the loan. This will need to be established with one’s lender, however, as simply becoming the sole owner of a home does not free the other spouse from loan-payment obligations, and failure to pay could still mar his or her credit history.
From complex property division matters and valuation to handling retirement accounts and even dividing assets such as artwork and items of sentimental value, the intricacies of divorce require knowledgeable counsel and detailed guidance. An experienced family law lawyer may assist a spouse with drafting detailed documents to avoid unnecessary litigation down the road.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “After divorce, deed of home and mortgage become different issues,” Ilyce Glink and Samuel Tamkin, Feb. 23, 2013