Your divorce is finally over– congratulations! Though you’ve passed an important milestone, it’s important to recognize that your hard work isn’t quite done yet. There are a number of affairs that will need to be put in order once a judge grants you divorce– including removing a name from your deed.
If both you and your spouse were on the deed for your property and only one of you was awarded the home, you’ll want to transfer ownership as soon as possible. You can do this with a Warranty Deed. Beyond that, you’ll need to ensure that the names on your mortgage loan reflect the new ownership arrangement.
In general, a home or other piece of real estate that was bought during a marriage is assumed to be marital property that both spouses owned. This is the case even if only one spouse’s name is on the deed.
If you’re wondering how your prenup might impact property division, take a look at this guide to prenuptial agreements.
Property purchased during the marriage will need to be divided during the divorce process. If both spouses’ names are on the deed, this usually means that one name needs to be removed.
You’ll find a detailed legal description of the property in question and who is receiving it as a result of the divorce in your divorce decree. This document should also outline which spouse is responsible for all of the associated expenses that go along with owning the property.
Your divorce decree can, in some cases, operate as a muniment of title. This essentially means that the divorce decree on its own might be sufficient to transfer the property to the appropriate spouse. Even though this can be the case, it’s important to understand that the divorce decree alone doesn’t actually change the property records so that they reflect who the owner now is.
When one spouse is awarded the house by a judge via a signed divorce decree, the other spouse has to transfer all of their interest in the property to the spouse that is receiving the house. In most cases, this is done with a Special Warranty Deed.
Once the Special Warranty Deed is signed by the other spouse, it needs to be filed with the Office of the County Clerk so that it can be included in the county’s property records.
The other option is to file a property deed that transfers the house into the name of the spouse that won the home in the divorce.
A Warranty Deed is required when you are transferring a house after a Texas divorce. The Special Warranty Deed is the most common deed that is used for this purpose, but a General Warranty Deed can also be used.
The deed needs to be signed in front of a notary by the spouse whose name is being removed from the title. This signed and notarized document is then filed at the County Clerk’s Office in the same county as the home.
You will need to submit the original signed deed to the clerk’s office– a copy isn’t sufficient.
There is also usually a recording fee that will be charged in order to file the deed. The precise amount can vary depending on the county, but it’s usually around $30 or $40.
For more information about the financial aspects of getting divorced in Texas, take a look at our guide to the cost of a Texas divorce.
It’s also worth noting that many county clerk’s offices only accept cash, a money order, or a certified check. They commonly don’t accept personal checks. It could be prudent to confirm the accepted payment methods ahead of time before driving to the office.
The original deed will be returned to the new property owner once it has been filed. This process will also update the tax records so that the new owner receives the tax bills associated with the property.
It’s important to note that the Warranty Deed only takes care of the transfer of ownership and doesn’t impact the names that are listed on your mortgage. In order to remove a spouse from a home loan, you will need to work with the mortgage company, which we discuss in the next section.
Do you need to change your name after your divorce? This guide walks you through the steps you’ll want to take.
Though transferring ownership of your property after divorce is an important step, you’ll also want to consider whether you have a mortgage on the home and whose name is on the loan.
If only one spouse’s name is on the mortgage and they were awarded the property during divorce, you won’t have to make any changes.
However, if both spouses’ names are on the mortgage and only one spouse was awarded the home, you’ll need to refinance the mortgage in the name of the new property owner.
Refinancing a mortgage can take time, as the lender will take a look at the individual’s assets and income to determine whether they will be able to refinance the mortgage.
You should find in your final divorce decree a statement about whether refinancing will be necessary on the part of the spouse that’s keeping the house. It should also state how long they have to refinance the loan.
When you have this in writing in your divorce decree, it can make it possible to file a motion to enforce the decree if your spouse doesn’t refinance the mortgage within the allotted time. That being said, the court doesn’t have any authority to order a lender to give a loan.
When you refinance a home loan, it means that a new loan is being created. As a part of the refinancing process, the old loan is paid off. The ex-spouse, that isn’t on the deed or mortgage anymore, won’t be responsible for any liens, past due mortgage payments, or other types of property-related debt.
If the thought of refinancing your mortgage is daunting, there is another option. Some lenders will remove the ex-spouse’s name from the loan if they are presented with a divorce decree and the appropriate warranty deed. This would then leave the original loan as it is but only with one spouse’s name on it. Even loans that are underwritten by governmental organizations (such as VA loans) can have a spouse’s name removed in some cases.
Unfortunately, ex-spouses can sometimes be unwilling to cooperate when it's time to transfer the house after a divorce. Or, relatedly, you might be struggling even to locate them.
If you’re struggling to find your spouse during the divorce process or they are being completely uncooperative, you’ll want to read up on the process of getting a default divorce.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might be able to file a certified copy of your final decree of divorce with the county clerk’s public property records.
In these instances, your divorce decree can act as a “muniment of title.” This will need to be a certified copy and not just a regular copy.
What makes a copy of your divorce decree certified? It will be signed by the clerk and have a stamp on it that states that it is certified. You’ll need to file this document in the property records once you receive it. You will want to file the certified copy at the clerk’s office in the same county where the house is.
If you don’t want your divorce decree to become a part of the public record, though, you will want to get and file a Warranty Deed. When you file a divorce decree in the property records, it means that it enters the public record. If this is the route you have to take, you’ll want to black out any private, confidential information that shouldn’t be included in the public records.
If you need to remove your name or your spouse’s name from the deed to your home after a Texas divorce, the spouse that no longer owns the property will need to sign a Warranty Deed and file it with the county clerk’s office where the property is located.
If both of your names are on the mortgage, you’ll want to either refinance or ask the lender to release one spouse from the loan.
Searching for more information about your Texas divorce? Check out our Texas family law blog!