You’ve found the perfect home in which to begin your post-divorce life. You can get it at a price you can’t afford to pass up. Can you go ahead and buy a home solely in your name, or will your soon-to-be-ex have to be considered a co-owner since you’re still legally married and California is a community property state?
It may be doable. Just don’t get ahead of yourself. You’ll need legal, financial and real estate guidance.
You probably need court approval
If you’re still working out your asset and debt division in the divorce, you may have difficulty getting a mortgage – or at least one with a decent interest rate. If you’re still in the process of selling your current home or your spouse is buying your share, detailing your financial picture to a lender can be complicated.
If you’ve got enough money that you can pay cash for the home, that makes things easier. However, if any of that cash is considered part of your marital assets, the court will need to approve the purchase. Even if you’re solely using an inheritance that hasn’t been commingled with marital assets, you may still need court approval just to avoid issues later.
Your spouse likely needs to sign a quitclaim deed
If you and your spouse are still considered legally married, they would have half ownership of the new home even though they aren’t on the title. However, if your spouse will agree to sign a quitclaim deed stipulating that they are giving their legal rights to the home to you, then they can’t later claim any ownership of it. Depending on your relationship, they may agree to do that or you may need to give them something they want in the divorce in return.
It’s a lot to think about. Buying a home under any circumstances is complicated, but doing so in the midst of divorce – especially when community property laws are in play – can be even more complicated. As noted, it’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance and to seek the help of financial and real estate professionals with experience in real estate transactions during divorce.