Transferring Title to Real Property After a Minnesota Divorce

 Deed and HomeFollowing a divorce, whether it is based upon a Judge’s trial order or a settlement agreement, there is a title to real property that must be transferred.  Title is transferred to whomever has been awarded the family homestead or other real property.  The divorce decree standing alone does not transfer title.

Title Standards determine if the documents recorded with a county relative to the title transfer meet minimal recording standards.  Title Standards are not laws or court rules, but are developed by the Real Estate Section of the Minnesota Bar.  Title Standard 84 is the beginning point for transfer in a divorce.  Title Standard 84 requires the following:

  • an exact legal description must be in the petition if the divorce is a default;   Note that  a property tax statement has an abbreviated legal description.  The complete legal description is found on the Abstract of Title or the Warranty Deed.  When in doubt go to the County Recorder where your property is located and ask for a copy of the complete legal description.
  • an exact legal description must be in the marital termination agreement if the parties enter into an agreement;
  • an exact legal description must be in the divorce decree.

Transferring title after a divorce is accomplished by a document called Summary Real Estate Disposition.   Minn. Stat. Section 518.191, Subd. 2 requires that the Summary Real Estate Disposition state that the requirements of Title 84 have been met and that the Summary Real Estate Disposition is true and correct and can be relied upon.  The Summary Real Estate Disposition is preferred because the complete divorce  decree need not be recorded with the County. Not having to record the decree preserves some measure of privacy because the decree is not accessible in a yet another public forum.  Court records will always be accessible to the public. Another advantage of the Summary Real Estate Disposition is  that   the other party’s signature is not required. Once the Disposition is prepared, then it is filed with the Court. The Court signs off on the Disposition.  A certified copy is then obtained and recorded with the County Recorder where the real property is located.

If a lien has been awarded, then the Disposition reserves the lien and sets out the terms of payment.

Requiring that a quit claim deed serve to transfer the property is not necessary language in the decree.  A quit claim deed can be prepared and recorded as well, but it should not be the means for transferring title after a divorce because is lacks all of Title 84 requirements.   A quit claim deed is signed by the other party.  Often times the quit claim deed preparer forgets to reserve a lien.  If a party relies on a quit claim deed to transfer title, then a certified copy of the decree must be recorded as well.  The Summary Real Estate Disposition is the most efficient document in transferring title to the property.   Language in the decree should reference the Disposition document as the transferring document.  The quit claim deed can be asked for as an additional document, but language stating that the property transfers on the receipt of a quit claim deed makes transferring more cumbersome than is necessary.

Clean title ownership is necessary to sell or to refinance real property.  The Summary Real Estate Disposition is the only recorded document that a Title Examiner requires.   The Title Examiner will look for a decree that awards one party the real property; and, that shows a change in marital status; and a deed from the former spouse or language in the decree that awards title.  The Summary Real Estate Disposition is the document that includes all the necessary title information in an abbreviated and approved form.

Transferring title does not remove anyone from the mortgage obligation.  Removing one party from the mortgage can only be accomplished through refinancing.

 Link to:   Sample Summary Real Estate Disposition for Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe  

Link toMinn. Statute Section 518.191

Kate Willmore, Family Lawyer & Mediator, Saint Cloud, Minnesota or (320) 217-6030

Copyright 2013

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

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