After divorce, do I owe fees on my home?


Q. After my divorce, I refinanced my loan to pay off my ex’s portion of the house. The settlement agent said I had to pay a Realty Transfer Fee of $1,200 because the property had an existing mortgage on it. My attorney friend said I should not have to pay it. Do I?
— Divorced

A. You’re going to need to speak with a real estate attorney to see if you can qualify for a waiver on the Realty Transfer Fee (RTF).

A Realty Transfer Fee is assessed at the closing of a real estate transaction through the title company when the title of the property is changing, said Nicholas Scheibner, a certified financial planner with Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn.

However, in some situations there are exemptions, he said.

“If a couple is married, or in some cases, the title transfers to certain family members, they can sometimes be excluded from paying the Realty Transfer Fee,” Scheibner said.

He notes New Jersey law – N.J.S.A. 46:15-10 – which says: “The Realty Transfer Fee shall not apply to a deed recorded within 90 days following the entry of a divorce decree which dissolves the marriage between grantor and grantee.”

Your age may also affect the treatment of the Realty Transfer Fee, he said.

You can also ask your attorney friend or a real estate attorney to see if you can qualify for a “quitclaim deed,” which your ex-spouse could sign, he said.

“This is an agreement that the transfer will not be subjected to an RTF,” he said. “A quitclaim deed basically takes a name off of the title and instead of transferring, they are just dropped from the deed.”

But, he said, these agreements are usually settled along with other divorce proceedings when a divorce is finalized.

Bottom line? You need to find someone who can look at the specifics of your situation to know what applies to you.

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This story was originally published on April 19, 2019. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.