How to Change the Title as Joint Tenants in a Divorce

By Michael Butler

In a divorce, all property owned jointly is typically divided. If you own real estate as joint tenants, one of you will normally have to give up title to the property. As both divorce and property laws are governed by the laws of your state, the process differs slightly from state to state. However, the rules are substantially similar.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is a way of holding title to property derived from English common law. It means that two or more people share ownership of the property. When one of the owners passes away, the title to the property passes to the remaining joint tenants automatically. Spouses normally own real estate as joint tenants. Since any owner of property held as joint tenants can block a sale or transfer of the property, it is not a good idea for ex-spouses to hold real estate as joint tenants. The real estate should be a part of the marital property divided in the divorce.

Property Division

The division of all the assets and debts of a divorcing couple is determined either through a settlement agreement or by a judge at a trial. The property is normally divided equitably. This does not always mean 50-50; it means what the law of the state considers fair. The real estate held as joint tenants will typically go to one of the parties. That person will also usually be responsible for any mortgages on the property. At the end of the divorce process, a court order will state which party receives the property.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Title Change

After the divorce is final, the party that does not receive the real estate normally transfers title to the other party by using a quitclaim deed. This type of deed is not a guarantee that the title is valid. A quitclaim deed just transfers any possible title or rights in the property to the other person without claims of validity. The party who received the real estate needs to file the quitclaim deed with the register of deeds in the county in which the property is located. In some states, such as Minnesota, the court order assigning the property to one of the parties must also be filed with the register of deeds.

Considerations

It is possible to change co-ownership from joint tenancy to another form of ownership in a divorce. Speak to a lawyer in your state about your options as it should only be done in unusual circumstances. If the spouse who was not granted the property refuses to transfer title, you can ask the court to find him in contempt of court. The party who was not assigned the mortgage is still legally responsible for it unless the other party refinances the property. If the party assigned the mortgage does not pay it, both parties can be sued. However, the innocent party can normally seek indemnification from the other person.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Refusal to Give the Title in a Divorce

References

Related articles

Deleting an Owner From a Certificate of Title in a Divorce in Colorado

When a married couple splits up in Colorado, their property is also split between them. The judge's order of dissolution indicates which party is awarded ownership of a vehicle held jointly by the couple, yet this does not automatically change the title. The couple must transfer vehicle ownership with the Department of Revenue.

Can You Sell a House Before You Finalize a Divorce?

The marital home is often one of the most valuable assets to divide in divorce. When a couple no longer lives under the same roof, selling the house may appear to be a practical next step. However, once a divorce petition is filed, state laws place certain restrictions on your ability to legally transfer the title of real estate without the consent of your spouse or the court.

Does a Divorce Decree Nullify a Car Title?

A divorce decree is a court order signed by a judge when she grants a divorce. Depending on the circumstances, the decree may include provisions for transferring property and allocating debts of the marriage. Although the divorce decree can reassign ownership of vehicles and other property, the decree does not nullify or invalidate the title. The parties must request a new title from the vehicle registration agency in the county where the vehicle is located.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Get a Divorced Spouse Off a House Title

When one spouse receives the marital home in a divorce decree, it does not automatically mean that the house is now ...

Tenants by the Entirety in a Divorce

Tenancy by the entirety is a legal doctrine allowing for a specific form of marital property ownership. The legal ...

Can a Spouse Get Half of the House in a Divorce in Connecticut?

Your home may be the most valuable asset you and your spouse own, so it will be important for you to claim your ...

In the State of Georgia Does a Spouse Get Half in a Divorce if the Name Is Not on the Deed?

A spouse who isn't on a real estate deed is often entitled to part of the property in a Georgia divorce. Even though ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED