Going through a divorce is a complex and draining experience that contains a myriad of elements that can confuse and escape the attention of the participants. Dissolution actions in Ohio are no different and tying up loose ends even after a marital settlement agreement is entered into or a court has disposed of all issues in a final decree is essential to protect the interests and rights of all involved.
Quitclaim deeds are designed to convey any interest that a person may or may not have in real property (or land). Unlike "general warranty deeds" or "special warranty deeds," quitclaim deeds convey any theoretical interest. Whether you have an interest or not, quitclaim deeds will grant someone else the interest you could possibly have in the property, whether or not a legal interest exists.
According to thefreedictionary.com, "a quit claim deed is a legal document by which a person releases or 'quits' any claim that they may have had in the property." This is a complete relinquishment of interest in any real property, or real estate, that might have been accrued by actual property (conveyed to a person) or legal interest (dower or curtsey). According to Ohio statute ORC 2103.02, though the right to dower or curtsey interest in Ohio terminates upon absolute divorce, the quitclaim deed acts as a mechanism to "tie up loose ends." Any person examining the property in the future will be able to determine that all interest gained by law has been disposed of without investigating the divorce file of each owner.
The purpose of any deed is to confidently convey property with a title that is considered "free and clear." This means that there are no encumbrances on the property (such as liens or mortgages) and that the deed has a clear title. In the case of a quitclaim deed, the conveyor is not guaranteeing that no encumbrances have been placed but simply that any interests they have ever had are now relinquished.
There are three (3) types of warranty deeds. The first is a "general warranty" deed, which states that a property is free and clear of any claims or potential interest by any party other than the stated owner. A general warranty deed guarantees this "free and clear" status since the deed's inception. A "special warranty" deed is a conveyance that states that the title may be defective prior to the owner's seizure of possession but that the title is free and clear since his possession of said property. A quitclaim deed makes no presumption about liability and simply states that if there is interest in the name of the grantor, the grantor is relinquishing that interest. The Ohio Court of Appeals has held that a quitclaim deed "in and of itself, is notice that there may be title imperfections, such that the grantee has no right to rely on the grantor's oral assurances of good title."
In family law (or domestic relations law) the purpose and effect of the quitclaim deed is pretty simple and straightforward. In several states, spouses gain a legal interest in a property simply by being married to the owner of the property. When a divorce results in one party giving up that interest and placing it in the hands of his (soon to be former) spouse, the execution of a quitclaim deed is an assurance that any legal interest in a property that spouse might have had is now terminated and no future claims by the relinquishing spouse can be made on future owners of the property.
Though the legal theory and definition of a quitclaim deed is nearly universal to all states, each state has its own individual format used to draft deeds. Ohio has codified its form for quitclaim deeds into its statutes.
- signing a contract image by William Berry from Fotolia.com