What Do You Do with the Deed to Your House After Divorce?

The divorce decree incorporates terms that affect your financial affairs, but you often need to take specific steps to make the right things happen. This is particularly true when it comes to any real estate you own jointly with your former spouse. Even when the property is awarded to one partner, the other partner’s name remains on the deed. That means your ex is still a legal owner.

To get that partner’s name off the deed, you have to get a new deed created, and the former spouse will need to sign it. You should take care of this as soon as possible to avoid problems later. Your ex will be legally obligated to sign a deed–usually a quitclaim deed—to relinquish their ownership interest. However, you may need to take legal action if they are stubborn about signing. Technically, refusing to sign puts them in contempt, so you can file a contempt complaint, but hopefully, your attorney can negotiate compliance without resorting to further court action.

Once you have the new deed properly signed, you should submit it to the local land records office to be recorded, and keep a copy for your own records. A real estate attorney can manage the process for you fairly quickly unless your former spouse is uncooperative or hard to locate.