Be Informed!

First and foremost, make sure that you have correct and verified information about any and all real property owned or financed by either spouse. First, make sure you are aware of how the property is financed. Whether a property is jointly financed or not can have a large impact on any divorce settlement. Look to the mortgage documents, promissory notes, deeds and credit reports for this information. You can even call the lending institution itself. Secondly, you need to have accurate and recent appraisals and payoffs for determining value, as well as estimates for any repairs or maintenance issues that are anticipated. Third, verify, in advance, whether you and/or your spouse will qualify independently for a refinance after the divorce.


Refinance, Refinance, Refinance

No other problem comes up as often as this one, and it usually doesn't rear it's ugly head until it is too late. If one spouse is awarded property, unless the paperwork specifically requires them to refinance, they are not obligated to do so. This leaves the other spouse on the loan, affecting credit, ability to obtain loans, and with the possibility of being liable if there is a default or deficiency. Just because you get divorced does not mean your name is removed from the mortgage. Next, always specify a time frame for when the refinance will be completed. Then, provide an alternative distribution for the property/loan if a refinance is not possible within that time frame. That alternative could be a sale or reversal of which spouse receives the property. Never assume a party is eligible for refinance. Finally, remember a quit claim deed never protects a party from mortgage liability.


Be Specific!

The more details you include, the better off you will be. For example, if a property is going be sold, make sure you can agree on the listing date, listing price, realtor and how to accept for reject offers. Also, designate who will live in, maintain and make the mortgage and tax payments while the property is on the market. Include a time frame for lowering the price and/or removing the listing. If one party is keeping the property, specify a deadline for the other party's move-out and designate which furniture and appliances they are allowed to take with them. Also, require that a quit claim deed be signed by a date certain and who will pay for any fees associated with the deed.