How Different Types of Property Are Handled During a Divorce

The divorce process imposes a lot of challenges, and many of the stickiest of the practical issues tend to involve property. Let's take a look at three different kinds of property and how a divorce lawyer may encourage you to handle them.

Real Estate and Mortgages

If there is a clear title for the property and no debt against it, a piece of real estate will be treated like any other asset during a divorce. This means it will be handled according to your state's views regarding community property versus equitable distribution. You should talk with a divorce lawyer to learn what the rules are where you live.

Mortgages can be a little more interesting. The simplest solution is usually to sell the house, settle the mortgage, and split the proceeds. One of the two former spouses can also decide to take over the mortgage, although this may require some horse-trading to even things out. Another option is for one of the two parties to file a quitclaim, essentially abandoning all claims to the property.

If there's a fight over the property and the title, this can get complex. One thing you don't want to do, though, is to finalize the divorce before the mortgage issues are settled because you could end up on the hook for your ex's debts.


Having both names on a lease presents its own issues. Generally, if one of the former partners elects to continue living in a rental property, the best thing to do is to have the ex's name removed from the lease. Another option is to terminate the existing lease, even if that means incurring penalties. A new lease can then be assembled.

Car Titles

This is another area where horse-trading tends to be the best answer. In some states, whoever's name is on the title owns the car, but there can be community property issues in other states, especially if the car was purchased after the marriage started. If you want a particular vehicle in your ex's name, you may have to get the title from them. That may entail offering them some assets in the divorce agreement to settle things.

Outstanding loans or liens on vehicles can be especially difficult to deal with. If you're no longer in possession of a vehicle but your name or theirs is still on the loan, you'll want to get that situation sorted out. Make sure a written agreement is in place regarding payments so legal action can be taken if your ex decides to stiff you.

Contact a divorce lawyer for more details.