Quitclaim Deeds: How They Can Affect A Divorce

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Going through a divorce can take a toll on both parties mentally, emotionally, and physically. There are so many things to think about and consider, so many details to take care of that come with the dissolution of a marriage, and no matter how long you’ve been together, it can be an overwhelming process.


When there is property involved, things become even more complicated. In certain states, the laws regarding property rights and quitclaim deeds–act of transferring the ownership of a home from the owner to another party, often a family member or a spouse–are very technical and tricky, so it’s important to become educated on your rights and responsibilities so there are no nasty surprises down the road. Here are some of the best tips on how to handle a quitclaim deed during a divorce, brought to you by the law firm of Ferguson and Ferguson.


Do some research


It’s imperative to do your research regarding property laws in your state. In a marriage, a quitclaim deed simply allows one spouse to transfer ownership of the property to the other. The important thing to know is that such a deed changes the ownership of the property, but it has no effect on the debt owed for it. This can cause issues during a divorce, because if you quit-claimed your home to your spouse but your name is on the mortgage, you are likely still responsible for those payments and the bank can come after you for them even if you no longer have ownership.


Know the rules about property you owned before the marriage


If you owned property before you got married and brought it into your marriage legally through a process called transmutation–effectively allowing your partner to claim a right to it–that process is related to a quitclaim deed and can change the nature of your ownership when you divorce. Depending on the state laws where you live, your spouse could be entitled to half the property’s value.


Know your rights


The rules of divorce and property division are complicated, but it’s important to know what your rights are and what you are entitled to. It’s also a good idea to remember that the court can overrule any decision made between you and your spouse regarding quitclaim deeds, so make sure you keep good financial records and come prepared with proof to back up any statements you make about your ownership in the property.


A quitclaim could keep you out of legal trouble


State laws vary, but a quitclaim deed could keep you out of legal trouble if you get a divorce and your spouse is sued. Having the deed in your name via a quitclaim means that if someone takes legal action against your ex, they cannot come after your home. Note: this is different than having your ex’s name on the mortgage, which is controlled by the bank.


Be aware of fees


There are many legal fees involved in a divorce, and quitclaim deeds are no different. Be aware that the person who files the paperwork for the quitclaim is responsible (in general) for paying the fees. Also, when you take ownership of a home through a quitclaim deed, you are agreeing to take it as-is, meaning the other party is not responsible for doing repairs.


Separation can be hard on everyone involved, including kids, making it a stressful time. Make sure you take care of yourself during this time and try to be patient. A divorce can be a long, drawn-out process, but keeping your cool in these situations will ensure that your mental and emotional well-being is in good shape.