The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
Last week, a customer came to the registry seeking to “release a lien” she said she had placed on a condominium owned by her ex husband. Upon further review, the “lien” was an Ex Parte Order issued by a Marital Master from Rockingham County, New Hampshire. The parties were divorced in New Hampshire, but the husband owned two condominiums in Massachusetts. As part of the divorce settlement, he had agreed to sell the Massachusetts properties and distribute the proceeds equally between the parties. While this order did not explicitly encumber these properties, it was recorded at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds with marginal references made to the applicable deeds and therefore created some doubt about the state of the title to the property.
If I remember Civil Procedure and Real Property correctly from law school, a court in one state has no jurisdiction over property in another state. If that’s the case, the question then becomes whether we should record an order issued by a court in another state. Even if the court lacks jurisdiction, by allowing such an order to be recorded, we essentially legitimize it, since it’s unlikely that a Massachusetts lawyer representing a buyer or lender would OK a transaction with such a document hanging around on record. On the other hand, if we refuse to record it, do we run the risk that there is some exception to the general jurisdictional law that we have overlooked and thereby frustrate the legitimate actions of a court in another jurisdiction.
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