Going through a divorce is an agonizing experience.
The process of separating two lives can be even more difficult when you and your spouse lease property and both of your names are on the agreement.
While divorce ends your marriage, it does not invalidate your lease agreement with your landlord. A lease is a legal contract and both spouses named on the lease are bound by it.
Breaking a lease can be expensive. Your landlord may not let one or both of you out of the lease and you may still be liable for any rent that’s due until the lease expires.
In addition, it is important to understand that courts typically won’t nullify or void rental agreements.
However, how these situations can be addressed as part of a divorce settlement. That is because rentals or leaseholds are considered marital property.
Here’s what you can do when you are going through a divorce and both of your names are on the apartment lease:
- Talk to a qualified divorce attorney. They can assist you in negotiating which spouse remains in the rental until the lease expires;
- Review your lease and see if it allows for early termination due to a divorce and if there is any payment penalty associated with it;
- Confirm that the spouse remaining in possession of the rental is assuming all responsibilities for utilities and rent;
- Inform the landlord of the pending change in your marital status.
GET IT IN WRITING
A divorce attorney will craft an agreement assigning lease responsibilities as part of the divorce decree. This will transfer all rights and obligations in the lease from one spouse to the other.
The document should also include the expiration date of the lease.
If the landlord won’t let the departing spouse remove his or her name from the lease, a divorce attorney can include a hold harmless clause in the agreement indemnifying the spouse who is moving out from any liability.
Commercial leases with both spouses’ names, such as for a business, are handled differently than leases for marital residences. An experienced divorce lawyer can help determine how to handle this and any other special circumstances that need addressing in your case.
Oxendine & Sauls, LP has a team of knowledgeable divorce attorneys ready to help you protect your assets and navigate the divorce process.