Can a Divorce Decree Be Used in Lieu of a Quit Claim in Ohio?
By Heather Frances J.D.
When a judge issues a divorce decree, he usually specifies how personal property and real estate should be divided between former spouses. However, actually transferring that property can be complicated since it may involve signing over a vehicle title, obtaining a new loan or recording a new deed. Your divorce decree itself does not accomplish these things.
A deed transfers ownership of real estate. In the context of divorce, a deed transfers one spouse’s ownership interest in a piece of real estate to the other spouse. Often, the divorce decree orders the spouses to complete the deed requirements necessary to transfer property as dictated by the decree.
In real estate transactions, there are two common types of deeds: warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds. A warranty deed – which is probably what you got when you bought your house – means the seller is guaranteeing that he owns the property free and clear and that he’s transferring all of that ownership to you. In contrast, when someone issues a quitclaim deed, he isn’t guaranteeing that he owns anything. He’s simply saying that he is giving you what he owns, if he owns anything.
A divorce decree does not actually transfer property of any kind. Instead, it simply directs the parties to make the transfer once the decree is issued. The decree may or may not address what happens with any mortgages on the property, but neither the deed nor the decree will remove either spouse from the mortgage. You must comply with the instructions in your divorce decree – or risk being found in contempt of court, which can put you in jail.
To complete the process of transferring property by a quitclaim deed, the deed should be recorded by filing the deed with the recorder’s office in the Ohio county where the property is located. If a deed is not recorded, no one will know about the property transfer. This can cause problems if creditors attempt to file liens against the property or if your spouse attempts to sell the property. Each county has its own formatting requirements for deeds, but deeds generally must contain the signature of the person transferring the property along with a description of the property.
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.