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How to transfer home ownership after a divorce

Here’s what to know when transferring financial responsibility for your property.

Of all the assets owned by a married couple, property can become the most contentious to divide during a divorce. If you or your spouse are interested in assuming ownership of your family home, you can do so with a quitclaim deed.

What is a quitclaim deed?

A quitclaim deed is the legal means used to transfer a person’s interest in real estate. Its name comes from the idea that a person is “quitting” their claim on a piece of property.

With a quitclaim deed, the spouse who intends to keep the home is given “valuable consideration” for the home, which can be money or something else of value. Ownership can also be transferred for “good consideration” — or payment that has no value, like gratitude.

What kind of paperwork will I need?

To transfer ownership of your property, first visit your county recorder’s office to request:

  • A quitclaim deed form. You’ll enter the date, the value of your home for consideration and a legal description and location of your property.
  • A Preliminary Change of Ownership form. The spouse who is intending to keep the home completes this form.

How can I ensure that my forms are completed accurately?

To avoid rejection of your forms for incomplete or inaccurate information, you’ll need to:

  • List the full name of the spouses involved in the transfer of property ownership.
  • Identify the proposed property’s location, value for consideration and “legal description” — or property dimensions and boundaries.
  • Sign the forms in front of a notary public, who will also sign them as a witness.
  • Submit your completed forms to be recorded in the property’s county.

If you have specific questions about the forms or your property when completing them, seek the assistance of your family law attorney.

Ask an expert: What happens if I don’t sign a deed?

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David Reischer, Esq.
Family Law Attorney & CEO of

To remove a person from title on real estate after a divorce, both spouses will need to sign a deed. In divorce contexts, both spouses will sign a deed transferring the former marital property to only one of the ex-spouses.

In my experience, former spouses that fail to divide their property after a judgment is issued by a court will create potential problems that will cause headaches down the road. Many years may pass until a person decides to sell or refinance their property, only to learn that his or her ex is still on the deed.

Acting quickly after a divorce decree is issued by the court will give a person the best opportunity to avoid future headaches.

Does a quitclaim deed affect my mortgage liability?

Your mortgage liability is not transferred through a quitclaim deed. Whichever spouse gives up their interest in the home could still find themselves responsible for half of that property’s mortgage debt and any lien on the property.

Will I need to pay a transfer tax?

When you transfer the title of your property with a quitclaim deed, the county in which the home is located may impose a transfer tax on both you and your spouse. The tax you’re charged will depend on your county, but it tends to be 1% of the home’s purchase price. Keep in mind that the county could reassess the value of your property at the time of transfer, resulting in higher property taxes for the spouse taking over ownership.

Ask an expert: How can I make the process go as smoothly as possible?

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Joseph Hoelscher
Managing Attorney, Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC

  1. Don’t deplete the asset. We use a standard order to prevent parties from damaging or borrowing against community assets, but people still do these things. I had a client whose spouse was still in the home while the divorce was happening. When we set a hearing to remove her from the home, she trashed it while he was at work. Eventually, all those extra costs got taxed against her by the court.
  2. Fight the system, not each other. The divorce process will take a huge cut of the family’s net worth, so both parties should fight together to preserve what they’ve got and think twice before going to court. Every time a lawyer gets involved, your bill goes up and so does the other team’s. That money is shrinking the pie you want to divide.
  3. Reassess your finances immediately. You’re going from one household to two. You need your own budget. Talk openly with your lawyer about what you can reasonably expect to be left with after the divorce and figure out how to live on it.

Seek the assistance of a professional

As with all real estate decisions, talk to your family law attorney, a tax professional or another expert to determine your specific responsibilities when transferring ownership of your property during or after your divorce.

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Leah Fallon is a freelance journalist and editor, specializing in personal finance and small business. She owns Birch Tree Bookstore in Leesburg, Virginia. See full bio

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18 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    MarkAugust 26, 2019

    The court gave me possession of my home years ago when my wife and I divorced. My ex wife only wanted her clothes and one vehicle from the house. Since then, we have both moved on, both married, and we have no communication with one another. I am now thinking about selling my house. Do I have to give my ex wife some of the proceeds?

      JeniAugust 27, 2019Finder

      Hi Mark,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      If it was ordered by the court that you’re the sole owner of the house and your ex-wife did not contest that, it is up to you if you’re giving her some of the proceeds or not. If your wife spent some money in purchasing the property and you consider her part, you may share some of the proceeds. You may verify this by speaking to your family law attorney.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    PeterMay 13, 2019

    My son is divorced from his wife and in the divorce agreement she received a lump sum payment and signed off to be removed from deed to the house in Florida. A new deed was filed and the wife was removed and my son is on the deed alone. *Question* Does anything have to be done regarding title insurance which still has her name on it? Or just having a copy of divorce and agreement and new title with just his name on it sufficient. Thanks Peter

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoMay 14, 2019

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder! Once a divorce has been filed, all assets and documentation that was on partnership prior must be addressed accordingly. Given this, since as of current, the title deed doesn’t bear the ex-wife’s name, both parties should settle on who stays on the insurance for the property. It would be best to seek legal advise and review the insurance policy in moving forward.

      Hope this helps!

      With care,

    Default Gravatar
    jennemycroMarch 31, 2019

    My SOs friend wants to give us his paid for trailer home, free of charge. Would a Quitclaim Deed be appropriate to use?

      johnbasanesApril 1, 2019Finder

      Hi Jennemycro,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      If you are buying a trailer and land, you’ll get a deed for the land, but not necessarily for the trailer. A trailer is only considered real property if it is permanently attached to land. If you are buying a trailer to pull behind your truck for touring the country, it comes with a title, not a deed.

      But if you buy a mobile home attached to real property, you’ll get a deed for both. Like a cabin or a villa, a mobile home sitting on a foundation or otherwise attached permanently is real property, and ownership passes with a deed. However, the type of real property you buy does not determine the type of deed you get. A quitclaim would only work if the trailer is attached to the land. Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    MichelleFebruary 23, 2019

    My husband and I file for divorce and it is now final. We own a home together, but we really want to do is to be able to take my name off the deed and the mortgage, without having to sell or refinance at this time. We are residents here in St George, Utah, and my question is there a way of going about this without having to sell the house? I’d appreciate if someone could tell me the right direction on doing so. Thank you, Michelle.

      JoshuaFebruary 24, 2019Finder

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I’m sorry to hear about your divorce. I hope all goes well for you.

      Regarding your question, you would need to directly get in touch with your lender. In most cases, to remove your name from a mortgage loan, refinancing or selling is needed. However, sometimes, your lender could offer you an alternative solution especially that the reason you want to remove your name is due to a divorce.

      By speaking with your lender, you would know more about your situation and other possible courses of action.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    JamesFebruary 6, 2019

    My ex still has her name on the deed. If a quitclaim is filed, can she then claim to be not financially responsible?

      JoshuaFebruary 16, 2019Finder

      Hi James,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      If a quitclaim deed is successfully filed, your ex would be removed from the title. However, if your ex is on the mortgage, a quitclaim does not remove her from any financial obligations for the property. Thus, your ex would still need to may repayments for the mortgage if this is the case.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


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