Whether you've parted ways amicably or going through a fierce divorce, it's in your best interests to remove your spouse's, lover's or friend's name from the deed to a home if you're no longer together. Failure to do so can result in legal complications that can affect your ability to refinance or sell the home. Here are a few ways you can have a person's name removed from the title of a house.
Do a Quitclaim
If you're on good terms with the co-owner, you can have the person sign over their interest in the home using a quitclaim. A quitclaim deed is a legal instrument that allows one person to give their share of a house to another person. This is best for transactions that don't involve money.
The quitclaim process is fairly straightforward. You can obtain the required forms from the register of deeds in the county where the home is located. Fill out the forms and have them notarized by a notary public. Afterwards, file the claim with the deeds office. Typically there is a fee associated with this process. However, the exact charge varies from county to county.
Negotiate a Settlement
If you're not lucky enough to have someone who is willing to relinquish interest in the property, then you may need to sweeten the deal by offering money or other assets in exchange for a clear title. If you're going through a divorce, for example, you can let your spouse take the vehicle and furnishing as payment for removing his or her name from the deed.
Other options include:
- Accepting their share of the home in lieu of alimony payments.
- Refinancing the home and giving the person money to surrender their claim to the property.
- Offering more generous custody terms or asking the court for less child support. The court typically sets the amount of child support a non-custodial parent is required to pay but may take your offer into consideration when rendering a judgment.
- Signing over your interest in another shared property such as a vacation home.
To bolster your position, you may want to remind the person that he or she will be expected to help pay for the home's maintenance, taxes and mortgage. This may make the individual more willing to negotiate with you to avoid being financially responsible for the property.
Sue in Court
There are two possible avenues you can take when it comes to asking the court for assistance with getting the co-owner to sign over the home. If you're divorcing the other person, you can request that the court give you the house as part of the divorce decree.
The courts try to split marital property in an equitable way, so you'll need to provide the judge with a compelling reason why you should be the sole owner of the property. There are a number of factors that will influence the judge's decision, but a few that may increase your odds of receiving a favorable verdict include:
- Being the custodial parent of minor children. Courts always try to do what's in the best interest of children. The judge may give you the home to minimize the amount of disruption in the kids' lives.
- Being the victim of domestic violence. Judges have been known to award domestic abuse survivors the lion's portion of marital assets as a punitive measure against abusers.
- Showing the home would be a burden to the other party. For instance, presenting financial evidence that the person cannot afford to pay his or her share of the mortgage payments.
If a judge decides to award you the house in a divorce, the other party would be required to sign over the deed or face a variety of consequences including jail time.
The nuclear option of getting a person removed from the title is to file a motion with the court for a partition sale. If the judge grants your motion, you will be required to sell the home and split the proceeds. You can do an end run around the reluctant party by buying the house yourself (or having a neutral third party purchase it for you) and giving the other party their monetary share of the "sale".
Getting an unwanted party's name off the title of your home can be challenging. It's a good idea to discuss your case with a real estate attorney who can either help you negotiate with the other person or put together a compelling case that increases your odds of winning a judgment in your favor.