To Quit or not to Quit, that is the Question.

It’s an unfortunate and regrettable fact that many marriages end in divorce. When couples decide to divorce one of things they generally have to do is decide who gets what. This often includes dividing up their real and personal property in an equitable fashion.

In some cases couples decide to sell their house meaning both spouses wind up relocating. In other cases the couple agrees to let one of them remain in the house meaning only one of them relocates. In these cases the couples separation agreement and divorce decree gives possession and ownership of the house to one spouse. What happens however, if years later the spouse who stayed in the home wants to sell the home. Is the language in the separation agreement and divorce decree giving exclusive possession and ownership of the house to the one spouse sufficient to complete a listing agreement to sell the house?

My experience says no. The spouse who is staying in the house should always get the vacating spouse to sign a quitclaim deed assigning whatever interest he or she had in the house to the spouse remaining in the house. Getting a quitclaim deed will allow the spouse remaining in the house to subsequently sell the house. On the other hand failing to get a quitclaim deed from the vacating spouse or failing to otherwise get the deed retitled in the remaining spouse’s name will likely prevent the remaining spouse from selling the house without reopening the couple’s divorce which could take months and may costs thousands in legal fees and costs.

The answer then whether to quit or not to quit is yes meaning a remaining spouse should always get the vacating spouse to sign a quit claim or other deed divesting them of their interest in the house.