Update your lease following divorce or separation

by Tom Simplot

Dec 20, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and often one of the most stressful. For some, the intensity of the season can spell the end of a relationship. Divorce attorneys report a 30 percent increase in the number of splits in January, following the holidays.


Many couples sign their leases together, creating a contract that both must honor. As you decide who will stay in the rental home, you need to update your lease documents to transfer or assign the lease to one party. If your management company or owner will not allow you to remove your name from the lease, ask your divorce attorney about a “hold-harmless” clause in your separation agreement to indemnify you from additional expenses related to the rental.


Even in an amicable split, you don’t want to be responsible for a lease in a home where you aren’t living. If your partner misses a payment or damages the home, you could end up responsible for those costs. Security, pet and cleaning deposits should also be considered. It’s worth deciding who will keep those funds at the end of the lease.


As you work to set up new accounts for cable, electricity and other utilities, it will be easier if your name is not on the old lease. If you are working with an attorney, be sure to ask these questions.


It can help to work through the practical issues and agree on the basics to prevent future challenges.