Transplanted residents from other states are often surprised by this one … and sometimes clobbered.
Florida has a constitutional protection called homestead.
What homestead does, among other things, is require that the legal spouse of a homeowner:
- join in any deed of a home to a third party and
- join in or consent to any mortgage on a home
Florida confers these rights and protections on spouses by virtue of their legal status of being married. How the property is titled or when the property was acquired is irrelevant.
So … a married spouse cannot sell a house they own, or mortgage it, unless the other spouse joins in the transaction or signs a written consent to it.
And a spouse generally won’t be able to get a away with lying about their marital status.
Title insurance companies conduct public records searches that are bound to foil any such lie. When couples divorce in Florida, a final judgment is recorded, just like a deed or mortgage.
Read more in this Sun Sentinel column House Keys: Ask a real estate pro: Do I need my estranged wife’s consent to sell home?.