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Divorce & House

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedMay 24, 2010
Key Takeaways:
  • A mortgage, like a marriage, is a contract.
  • There is no waiting period to refinance after divorce.
  • A quitclaim deed takes a few minutes for a paralegal to prepare.
How long must I wait after a divorce before I can refinance a home awarded to me?

I have a pending divorce and the primary residence mortgage and title is in spouse's name. If the judge from the state of Maine awards me the house in the divorce judgment, will I be able to refinance the home and pay off existing home equity, tax liens that are in spouse's name? Will I have a waiting period before I can refinance it after acquiring title?

There is a key misconception in your question I need to address before answering the main issue in your question.


A mortgage is a loan secured by real property and paid in installments over a set period of time. The mortgage secures a promise that the money borrowed will be repaid. A mortgage is formed by contract. Generally speaking, courts are reluctant to alter the terms of a mortgage, and do so for only the most unusual situations. Divorce is not unusual.

A divorce decree does not trump the contract terms in a mortgage to the best of my knowledge. The contract was agreed to when the loan was signed by you and/or your spouse. The divorce did not rewrite the contract. You may ask, "But doesn't the divorce decree trump the loan contract?" No, it does not. Unless a court actually enters into an agreement to change its terms, an existing agreement remains in effect regardless of a subsequent divorce decree. The divorce is a new agreement between the spouses regarding their financial responsibilities, but it is not binding on third parties.

If the court awards you property titled and mortgaged by your spouse, your spouse will most likely execute an interspousal quitclaim deed that gives you all of the rights to the property that your spouse has. A quitclaim deed takes a few minutes for a paralegal to prepare, and even less time for you and your spouse to sign it (usually in the presence of a notary public). The title is the easy part.

The mortgage may be more difficult. It may be more difficult because, typically, a spouse cannot "sign-over" a mortgage to another spouse. This can only happen if your spouse has an assumable mortgage, which are rare. Your first task is to learn if the mortgage is assumable. If it is, you are in luck and all you need to do is complete the forms necessary to assume the mortgage.

Mortgage shopping

If the mortgage is not assumable, which is probably the case, then you need to find a mortgage. This is one area in life where shopping is indeed the solution to your problem. Click on the link I just mentioned to learn what you need to qualify for a mortgage. Or, visit the mortgage saving center for no-cost, pre-screened quotes from mortgage lenders.

I am not aware of any waiting period in any state that person must wait before refinancing or securing a new loan following a divorce. Start your shopping now.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.