Divorce Leads To Home Ownership Issues
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
REM #LAW 708
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A reader has been divorced for many
years and received his home in the divorce settlement. While preparing to sell
the home, he discovers his ex-wife never signed a quit claim deed. Ilyce and
Sam explain what legal steps should be taken in order to sell his home.
Q: My boyfriend is going to sell his house. We have lived together for 10 years.
But his ex-wife of thirteen years never signed a quit claim deed.
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Now she is refusing to sign the sales contract. In the divorce decree she relinquished
all rights and responsibilities to the house. What should he do?
A: It’s unfortunate that many couples forget to make sure they take care
of changing the title of their real estate when they get divorced. It’s
generally a simple process that requires one spouse to convey his or her interest
in the property to the other. While a divorce decree tells the couple the final
disposition of all of their marital assets, they need to go this extra step
to make sure that the title to each piece of real estate ends up with the right
As in your boyfriend’s case, years may go by. In some cases, ex-spouses
disappear. The records as shown in the recorder of deeds office will not change
unless a deed transfers title from the ex-spouse to the person that’s
going to keep the property.
Your boyfriend probably has three choices in deciding how to proceed in selling
his home. The first choice is to plead with his ex-wife to sign the deed conveying
title to him. The second is to motion the court in which the original divorce
had been filed and have the court issue a judicial deed to him. The court, in
effect, would convey the ex-spouse’s interest in the home to your boyfriend.
Finally, in some cases and in some states, your boyfriend may be able to address
this issue with the title company that will insure title in the buyer’s
name. While the first and second options are the most preferable and you should
proceed along those paths, as a last resort, your boyfriend may have this final
option with the title company.
The title company would have to review the original divorce judgment and make
a decision as to whether they would be willing to insure the title that would
be conveyed to your prospective buyer. And, your boyfriend may have to pay extra
for this service.
Finally, keep in mind that this option may not be available everywhere and
may cost more than having the court issue a deed to your boyfriend.
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce
R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your
Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for
them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022
or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com