Sometimes Judgments of Dissolution were not done as well as they could have been.
A prime example may relate to a car or a piece of real estate, such as a house.
Cars should be fully described in any Judgment of Dissolution, with make, model, year, and (crucially) VIN. If this is done, the Judgment of Dissolution can generally be taken to the DMV and implemented, with new ownership documents produced by the DMV upon your request, even if the other side does not sign off on the title.
Forcing your former spouse to comply, and to sign off on a title, can be expensive, time consuming, and difficult, even assuming that you can find your former spouse when you want to sell the car.
If you have a willing buyer, who wants the car now, but who does not want to wait for a month, or for several months if your former spouse is especially difficult to deal with, you may lose the sale.
Similarly, real estate should be described in your divorce judgment with a formal legal description just like the description that appeared on the deed when you bought the property.
It is inadequate for a Judgment of Dissolution to describe a house by street address, or even by tax account or tax lot number.
If the property is properly described, with a real legal description, the Judgment can be used as proof of ownership when you want to sell the property, or if you want to get a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or other line of credit that is backed by the house.
If you do not have this, you could be between a rock and a hard place, with a buyer or bank just waiting (but not waiting forever), when you decide to sell or refinance the property. Often this does not really come to the forefront until a sale is ready to close, which can be even more troubling.
For these reasons, if your Judgment of Dissolution does NOT serve as a self executing transfer document (as outlined above), it can be crucial to get the other paper work (like a deed from your former spouse, or a signature on a vehicle title) now - before you need this done.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
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