Using a Quitclaim in Divorce

Using a quitclaim in divorce is a common occurrence as it is generally one of the quickest ways to separate the ownership of a piece of property. When a married couple owns a piece of property, they need to take one of the individuals off of the deed to the property quickly. Here are the basics of the quitclaim deed and why you might choose to use it during a divorce.

Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is used by an individual that wants to immediately eliminate any ownership rights to a property. When you sign a quitclaim deed, you are no longer the owner of the property and any rights that you had go to the other owners of the property. The quitclaim deed is generally a one-page document or sometimes it can be 2 pages. When you sign this document, you will usually do so at a title office or with a real estate attorney. 

Why Use it?

This type of document is commonly used by married couples that are going through a divorce. You might consider using this if one of the spouses in a marriage is going to continue living in the marriage house while the other one moves out. If one individual is going to continue living in the house, they do not want their ex-spouse to have any ownership rights associated with the property. Therefore, they get them to sign a quitclaim deed and eliminate any rights they had to the property.


When a married couple purchases a piece of real estate, they both contribute to building the equity in the house. When the marriage is finished, both spouses still have an equal right to that equity. When the house is sold and both parties move out, it is simple to divide the proceeds from the sale. When one person is still going to live in the house, the other one has to be paid for their portion of the equity in most cases. This means that the person that is still going to live in the house has to pay the other one for their equity in a cash settlement. 


In many cases, people do not have enough cash on hand to pay their spouse for the equity in the house. One way that they can come up with the money that they need is to refinance the mortgage. They will take the funds from the new mortgage and use part of them to pay off the existing mortgage. Any money that is left over can be used to pay for the equity of the other spouse. 

Refinancing is also necessary because it closes out the mortgage with both spouses on it and starts a new mortgage with only one spouse. If a spouse moves out and the mortgage is not refinance, signing a quitclaim deed will not relieve them from the responsibility of the mortgage. If the mortgage goes into default after signing a quitclaim deed, they are still responsible. This is why refinancing is an essential part of the equation.