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How to Transfer Ownership of Marital Residence Between Spouses in a Divorce

Dealing with marital assets and debts represents a key component of most New Jersey marriage dissolution cases. In a notable number of these cases, addressing ownership of the marital residence is a primary property issue. In some marriage dissolution cases, the parties agree that one spouse of the other will obtain full ownership of the home as part of the overall property division agreement. With that in mind, the question of how to transfer ownership of the marital residence pursuant to that type of agreement is raised. As part of that discussion, understanding the process of divorce and quitclaim deed use is necessary.

Ways in Which Marital Residence Can be Addressed in a New Jersey Divorce

Before diving into a discussion of how to transfer ownership between spouses due to a divorce, understanding some of the difference scenarios that can come into play in regard to the spouses’ home or the marital residence is helpful. The more commonplace ways in which a marital residence is addressed (or disposed of) during a New Jersey marital dissolution case include:

Sale of the marital residence with proceeds divided between the parties pursuant to agreement or order of the court

Set aside marital residence to the spouse with primary custody of the children until last child reaches majority (or comes of age), the property to be sold at that time with proceeds divided

Set aside marital residence to one of the spouses, with an offset other assets to the other party, which is where the issue of divorce and quitclaim deed can specifically come into play

What is a Quitclaim Deed?

A quitclaim deed is a type of deed that transfers whatever interest the grantor has in a piece of real estate to another person. A quitclaim deed differs markedly from a warranty deed. When a warranty deed is used, as is the case in nearly all real estate sales, the grantor warrants that the property is free and clear of any incumbrances.

While a warranty deed could be used to transfer titled between divorcing spouses, the thinking is that both parties to a marriage have equal access to information about the marital residence, including whether or not the title is encumbered in any way. Hence, a quitclaim deed is the commonly used instrument to transfer ownership interest from one spouse to another in a New Jersey marriage dissolution proceeding.

Divorce and Quitclaim Deed

The reality is that the matter of divorce and quitclaim deed is not a particularly complex or confusing issue. When a person is represented by a New Jersey divorce lawyer, legal counsel typically obtains a quitclaim deed form for use in the transfer of the marital residence.

The instrument itself is simple in its contents. It includes the legal description of the real estate in question, the common or street address of the marital residence, the name of the grantor (or spouse who is relinquishing an ownership interest in the real estate), the name of the grantee (or spouse who will obtain full ownership of the property), and a signature line for the grantor. A quitclaim deed must be signed in front of a New Jersey notary public.

Once executed (or signed) a quitclaim deed is then filed with either a New Jersey Register of Deeds or New Jersey County Clerk, depending on which county the real estate is located. Technically, the conveyance of the real estate interest is not complete until a quitclaim deed is filed.

Marital Residence and Other Asset Offset

Along with using a quitclaim deed, another relatively common practice when a marital residence is set aside to one spouse in a divorce case is what is known as an offset with other assets. The spouse relinquishing his or her interest in a marital residence via a divorce and quitclaim deed process will have other assets of the parties set aside to that individual to compensate for the value of the home.

Protecting Your Rights in a New Jersey Marriage Dissolution Case

If you are thinking about pursuing a divorce, or if your spouse has filed a marriage dissolution case, you undoubtedly have many questions and concerns. A New Jersey divorce attorney from the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen can explain your rights and answer any questions you have regarding your case. You can reach the firm by calling 201-845-7400.

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