Question: I am buying a house from an owner who is going through a divorce. According to the current deed, he is the only title holder, but the couple was married when he bought the house. Will the divorce mess up my purchase?

Answer: Your seller’s divorce is an issue and you are wise to question its effect on your transaction.

Because a complaint for divorce was filed, an automatic restraining order issues preventing the conveyance of any marital assets. This is to prevent vindictive spouses from looting money or assets from the failing marriage. In determining if the home qualifies as a marital asset, the court looks beyond the name on title. Many families will place title in one spouse’s name for various strategic purposes, like creditor protection.

Can he sell his home without his wife’s consent? This is an issue for the probate and family court to decide. Ideally, he can provide a court order authorizing the sale or the wife simply signs off on the deed. Request this information as early as possible.

Ensure you are protected during real estate transactions by hiring an experienced real estate attorney.

This article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.