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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102584
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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Closing on house today. The home was purchased by parents,

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Closing on house today. The home was purchased by parents, for their daughter & husband to live in. They were never on the title. The daughter and husband have since divorced and the house is empty. Somewhere along the line the daughter was attempting to recover child support through the state of Florida and the state placed a lien on the house against the husband, though he was never on the title.

The attorney handling the closing today is confident they can get this cleared up in time for closing, but what type of assurances should I be looking for?

Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am sorry for your situation. It is likely that what happened was that somewhere along the line, either party listed the 'home' as an asset in the child support paperwork, and the Child Support Enforcement took their word for it and applied a lien to property even though his name is not really on the deed (they never bothered to check).

Your attorney should indeed get this cleared up fairly fast by contacting the Child Support Enforcement and explaining the situation, at which time they should take the lien off, or else face a civil tort for tortious interference with a contract or business relationship. The elements of tortious interference with a contract or business relationship are: (1) the existence of a business relationship, not necessarily evidenced by an enforceable contract, under which the plaintiff has legal rights; (2) the defendant's knowledge of the relationship; (3) an intentional and unjustified interference with the relationship by the defendant; and (4) damage to the plaintiff as a result of the interference. Salit v. Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster, 742 So. 2d 381 - Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 1999.

Of course this is the last resort. The attorney should be friendly at first. A "stick and carrot" approach is used in these situations.

but what type of assurances should I be looking for?

A letter from Child Support Enforcement confirming that they will, have, or intent to take the lien off is necessary here. If this is not provided, and/or if the lien is still on the title, the closing may be delayed a few days until this is done as the buyer may balk until it is.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry, to clarify, I am actually the buyer. The closing attorney also mentioned setting aside sufficient funds from the sellers proceeds at closing, to be held until the lien is released by the state. IF that doesn't happen by 1pm today.


If they go the route of setting funds aside ($40,000), what type of a document would I need to see that would protect me from liability?


And thanks for your help.




Ah, I see - my apologies and thank you for your clarification! No need to apologize, please.

At this point friend, if I were you, my assurance would need to be a CLEAR title without any lien, and a certification that the title is clear from the title company or otherwise.

Anything less, and I would stall the closing because they cannot provide a CLEAR title - a buyer would be in their right to do so.

No letter from an attorney can serve as an 'assurance' because the attorney's letter promising "it will come off" does not mean that the state will do as he says they will.

That lien has to be OFF - that is all. Nothing else should do.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So there is nothing that can be written up to allow them to set the funds aside, held by the title company, until they are able to get the lien removed?


Well, technically, yes. You and them can agree that:

1) The funds will be set in an escrow account; that
2) Are controlled by you (or a neutral third party), because you do not want the fox to guard the hen-house; and
3) Only dispersed once the lien is cleared.

However, they are unlikely to agree with this. This is because they would want the money now, and, they would be signing off the deed to you, which is then hard to get back if something does not go according to plan.

Ergo, it is strongly advisable then to wait util this matter is cleared up before closing.

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