Home lien in ex-husband’s name I divorced in February of 1999.

Home lien in ex-husband’s name
I divorced in February of 1999. I got
the house in the divorce. In
February 1999, just prior to the
divorce a lien was placed on the
home in my former husband’s name
for a judgement against him. The
house has been in my name alone
since 1999. The lien was recently
renewed for an another 10 years.
As additional info my ex-husband
signed papers to quit claim deed the
house to my sister on January 22,
1999 prior to the placing of the lien.
These papers were signed in our
attorney’s office – my husband and I
were represented by the same
attorney. I received the quit claim
deed back on April 7, 1999 from my
attorney with a letter instructing me
to keep for my files. I was unaware
at the time the quit claim was never
filed. If the quit deed had been filed
the lien could not have been placed
in the first place. As this was the
entire intent for having my
ex-husband deed the house I feel the
attorney was negligent. I was never
told the deed had not been filed.
My ex has made no payments on his
debt and interest and penalties have
added to the lien. Do I have any
recourse? Can I pursue any course
of action against the attorney?

One thought on “Home lien in ex-husband’s name I divorced in February of 1999.

  1. Re: Home lien in ex-husband’s name
    You have provided many good details. However, I would need to know more information about how the debt under which the judgment and ultimately the lien were obtained. Specifically, was this a community debt or a separate property debt? If it was a community debt, then recording your husband’s quit claim would not have avoided the situation, given that at the time the lien was filed, you still had an interest in the home and your sister held your husband’s interest in the home.

    As for the attorney’s role, there are some serious issues. First, an attorney cannot represent you both in adversarial proceedings, such as a dissolution. If the attorney represents two of you in a business transaction, the attorney needs to obtain a waiver from one of you indicating that you understand he has an actual or potential conflict of interest and that you neverless waive your right to prevent him from representing the other side. I’m simplifying things here, but you get the idea.

    As for whether the attorney was negligent in recording the quit claim, he may have been, assuming he agreed to record it. You have to prove that he was supposed to do it as opposed to preparing it and giving it to you to record. That depends on your contract and written communications that hopefully indicate whose role it was to record.

    Even if it was his duty to record, this comes back to whether that would have helped the situation, had the debt been community debt in the first place, thus making you responsible for it as well. If it was community debt, the creditor can come after you, but hopefully the decree of dissolution has a provision that allows you to seek damages from your ex-husband should a situation such as this arise. This is called a “hold harmless” clause.

    I suggest you ultimately consult counsel in Washington (since you appear to be in California) to review all the documents in question and provide you with a more definite answer, as opposed to my set of “if this, then that” which is all I can do with what you’ve provided. To that end, I am happy to consult with you if you contact me at your convenience.

    Amir John Showrai
    The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC
    1501 Fourth Avenue, Suite 2150
    Seattle, WA 98101+3225

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