Divorces and Deeds.

by | Oct 7, 2016 | Legal Tips

A common scenario we see in real estate concerns divorced Sellers. For example, a husband and wife own property together; both are on the deed. The couple later divorces and the Divorce Decree states that the wife is to receive the real property.  A year or so passes and the wife decides to sell the house and hires you as the listing agent.  When you get a copy of the deed from the Register of Deeds prior to listing the property you discover that the husband is still listed on the deed. The wife hands you the Divorce Decree and tells you it is not a problem because the judge says she owns the house. Is it a problem?

Unfortunately, this is a problem that we see often. The Divorce Decree does not transfer the title. It is a directive of the court that still requires the affirmative action of delivering an executed deed. In order to properly list this property you will either need both ex-spouses to sign the listing (not optimal) or have the ex-husband execute a quit-claim deed conveying the property to his ex-wife. Remember the preparation and recording of a deed is the practice of law and should not be undertaken by a non-lawyer.  If the ex-spouse refuses to sign the deed then your client may have to consult legal counsel and file a Rule to Show Cause in Family Court requiring him to comply with the Order.

It is advisable to handle these matters in advance. Even if both spouses execute the listing agreement it is best practice to have the deed executed immediately. The last thing your client wants is for the transaction to get delayed at the end because the ex-spouse becomes obstinate or the ex-spouse gets a judgment against them which attaches to the property.

If you find yourself in this situation, please contact our law office so we can assist you by drafting the deed.

Historical Fact: Every South Carolinian remembers where they were when Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston. Hurricane Hugo made landfall on September 21, 1989 slightly north of Charleston. Hugo was a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall with 136-mph sustained winds. Gusts were as high as 160-mph.  Hugo is the most intense tropical cyclone to strike the East Coast north of Florida since 1900. Hugo caused 27 fatalities in  South Carolina and left nearly 100,000 homeless. The storm cost over $10 billion in property damage.  Let’s all pray that ten years from now we don’t remember Hurricane Matthew because it turns sharply to sea and spares our state similar damage.

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