My ex-boyfriend and I are joint owners of a two-family house. I added his name to the Title after I had secured the house. The mortgage is under my name and I pay it regularly. He did help me financially with part of the down payment, part of the mortgage and with renovations for the rental side of the house. I live in the house with my two sons (not his children). He does not want to sign a Quitclaim Deed. What would I need to do to get his name out so that I own it free and clear? Can he be served with court documents outside of the U.S.A?
Real Estate Attorney
Unfortunately, absent court intervention, you cannot unilaterally remove his name from the title to the property. You can seek to have the property partitioned, but this would likely result in a sale of the property to a third party. In order to do this, you would have to file a petition for partition in either the Land Court or the applicable Probate Court. The process is very costly and time consuming. There may not even be equity enough in the property to warrant a partition. Your best option is to reach an agreement with your ex-boyfriend and have him execute a quitclaim deed. As I understand it, he's not on the mortgage, but you may want to consult an attorney to ensure that none of the acceleration or default provisions of the mortgage are triggered by the transfer prior to changing title.
This "answer" is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship.
Family Law Attorney
I agree with Atty. DiCarlo that your choices are either negotiation with him or partition, and the latter is not a great option. I would add that since he did put money into the property, your negotiation is going to have to include some reimbursement to him. This is similar to a buy-out in a divorce. Adding him to the title unfortunately has consequences.
To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state, I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
I agree with the two prior attorneys, it's a hard road ahead. Yes, you can serve on out of country defendant, but I have done partition petitions in court, and it is long and costly. Try to have him agree to a buyout of his share. Offer him his investment money and some on top in exchange for his signature on the deed. If you don't have the money to do so, or if he just refuses, then you'll have to use the court system. It would be good to consult with an attorney who is familiar with these matters to plan a course of action that will be the most time and cost effective.
This information is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney-client privilege or relationship between Anjali Gupta Stevenson Law Office, LLC and the reader. This information is for general purposes.
Real Estate Attorney
I'm sorry to hear that you are in this position.
As the others have said, adding someone's name to a deed has serious legal consequences, and should not have been done without speaking to a lawyer first.
At this point, the only way to get his name off the deed (without his permission) is to bring a Petition for Partition in the Probate and Family Court or Land Court. If service of process will be difficult, you will need to get some guidance from the court on how to make sure he is served - perhaps by publication, mail, or otherwise.
You really should have counsel to assist you, and our office handles this type of matter routinely.
Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and obtain advice and review of your specific legal issue, please call us today at 617-357-4898 or visit us at www.vaughnmartel.com.