Q: A year before my divorce, my ex-spouse almost defaulted on several debts. We went into personal bankruptcy to save the house we owned.

I got the house in the divorce, and have been paying the mortgage ever since. However, due to the bankruptcy on record I couldn’t get a new loan to transfer it to my name.

How can I ensure that my adult children will get this property if I die, or that he doesn’t get the deed when I pay it off? Is my divorce decree enough? Is there a statute of limitations on the decree?

A: Is your ex-spouse still on the title to the property? If so, then he should deliver to you a quit claim deed, relinquishing all ownership right to the property to you.

But don’t be surprised if he refuses to do this until the time at which you’re able to refinance. He may balk at the idea of giving up ownership while he is still on the mortgage and has a financial interest in the property.

Once you are able to refinance (and you may be able to do it sooner than you think), you can have him execute the quit claim deed at your closing on the mortgage. These things can happen simultaneously.

If he has already transferred title to you, as required by your divorce decree, then you do not need to worry about him gaining access to the equity in the property.

A real estate attorney can guide you further.

Posted October 1, 2006.