Deeds and Marrige in Oklahoma - the "Why" Behind My Earlier Guide
In my last Avvo legal guide, I explained that in a deed, the grantor / seller must state their marital status. And if the grantor / seller is married, their spouse must join and sign the deed. This follow-up legal guide looks at the "why" or basic reasons for these general rules.
1. So One Spouse Does Not Sell the Family Home Without the Other Being InvolvedOklahoma law protects a spouse from the other spouse selling their home without both spouses' knowledge and agreement. This is even in the Oklahoma Constitution (Article XII, Section 2), ". . . nor shall the owner, if married, sell the homestead without the consent of his or her spouse . . "
2. But What About Other Property Besides the Homestead?Oklahoma law allows a spouse to convey property owned solely by them without spousal consent. For example under 16 OS 13, "[t]he husband or wife may convey, mortgage or make any contract relating to any real estate, other than the homestead, belonging to him or her, as the case may be, without being joined by the other in such conveyance, mortgage, or contract." This frequently leads to some variation of the question: "Why does my spouse have to sign if this is my family land, they are not involved, they did not pay for it, etc.?" The answer is in Sections 3 & 4 below.
3. The Impossibility of Determning a Homestead From a Legal DescriptionIf you are just looking at a legal description such as Lot 1 or Section 1 (legal descriptions are more involved but shortened here for simplicity), you have no idea what that land is used for. It could have a house on it. Or an apartment complex. Or oil and gas equipment. Or barns. Or not. Legal descriptions are how attorneys and other persons research property in land records or in compilations of land records called abstracts.
4. Therefore, All Deeds Require Marital Status of the Grantor and Spousal Joinder, if ApplicableBecause it is impossible to tell if a property is a homestead just from the legal description, a recital of the marital status of grantors / sellers, and spousal joinder if applicable, are required on all deeds for marketable title. As mentioned in my earlier guide there are some exception and possible cures. And we could get into the distinction between marketable title and a valid transfer. But the purpose of my original article and this follow-up article was to lay out the basic rule and basic reasons for the rule - not to deal with the topic exhaustively.