Thank you for your question about your mortgage, your home, and a quitclaim deed.
There are at least three separate issues present in your question:
- Your rights to the property
- The domestic partnership
- Your obligation for the mortgage debt.
A domestic partnership is a type of legal relationship between two people who are not married, but enjoy the rights, protections, benefits, responsibilities, obligations, and duties that normally fall only to married people. The rules for domestic partnership apply in some jurisdictions to both same-sex partners and to male-female partnerships. In other jurisdictions, they only apply to male-female partnerships. Domestic partner benefits can be set by a state, city, county, or by individual employers. The federal government does not recognize domestic partnerships, aside from some limited recognition for federal employees. For instance, California domestic partnership law has very broad provisions, making a domestic partnership a virtual marriage. Because the rules vary in different jurisdictions, it is important to do your homework to see if you are eligible for a domestic partnership and what the rights and responsibilities are in your jurisdiction.
A quitclaim deed is a legal document that conveys one person's interest in a property to another person. The deed indicates that the title is conveyed from the grantor (transferor) to the grantee (transferee). Although it is not an issue in your case, anyone who has property rights transferred to him or her through a quitclaim deed should be aware that it does not guarantee that the grantor holds the legal rights of ownership. The quitclaim deed also does not guarantee that the property being transferred has a clear title, or that the title is free of liens.
In your case, you would transfer your interest in the property to your ex-partner, leaving him with full ownership rights to the property. This can be done quickly and at low cost, but you should consider if it is in your interest before you file a quitclaim deed.
The quitclaim process is between you and your ex-partner. It has no relation to the mortgage loan the two of you jointly hold with your lender. Regardless of your ownership rights in the property, you are responsible for the mortgage financially. You continue to be responsible for the mortgage, although if the mortgage is paid as agreed, the impact on you would be minimal. If your ex-partner ends up not paying the mortgage on time, it will show on your credit report and lower your score. Whether he dies or lives, you are responsible for the mortgage until it is paid off via a new loan (refinance) or the home is sold.
The joint mortgage with your ex-partner could also pose a problem, were you to apply for another mortgage. At that time, the new lender would see on your credit report that you have another mortgage in your name. The new lender could count the monthly payment on your old home as part of your debt-to-income ratio, making it hard to qualify for the new loan. This is another reason for you to seek a way to get yourself off the mortgage.
Is there any equity in your property? If so, the cleanest solution is to sell the home and divide the proceeds. Can your ex-partner buy you out, paying you a share of the equity to have you quitclaim your interests? If he cannot pay you a lump sum, maybe you can have an attorney write a contract for your ex to buy out your interests over time? If there is no equity or one of you will not agree to sell the home, there may be no good solution. You did not specify why your ex is against refinancing the loans into his name. Could he qualify for a refinance loan, if he wanted to? He may be against refinancing because he thinks other options are available that will get you off the property and protect your rights, but they may not exist.
Don't quitclaim your interest in the property, while you remain financially responsible for the mortgage. If your ex changes his mind and decides to refinance, you can quitclaim your interest in the property, but do not do so without first having him sign a contract that he will refinance the loans, once you convey title.
Does your ex-partner have the ability to make the payments on the first and second mortgages on his own? If not, the mortgage will go delinquent, affecting both of you. That gives you both an incentive to find a mutually satisfactory solution. If he can pay both mortgages, he may prefer the status quo, although that leaves your ownership stake in tact.
Consult With a Lawyer
Consult with a lawyer. I imagine a lawyer may write a contract that keeps you on title, but restricts your rights to the property, although I am not sure that this would benefit you. Due to the complexity of the issues involved and the multiple scenarios possible, I recommend you seek counsel of a divorce lawyer. He or she will be knowledgeable about the various options available for dividing shared assets when a relationship dissolves, including a domestic partnership. The divorce attorney can recommend a different attorney to write up a contract limiting your rights to the property, if you decide that course of action serves your interests.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.