What to do when a deadbeat dad wont show up at closing?

Ok, a blue hair contacted me today wanting to sell.

She bought the home in the 80’s with her husband and has since paid it off. Half way through, she got a divorce with said husband. Both are on the title and the house has been paid off for some time now.

The situation is a little bit complicated and fraught with problems. Here are the main two. I can take care of the other smaller ones.

First, the house was actually been put into contract ten years ago (apparently he signed), but he never showed up for closing. She said the reason that he does not show up is because he owes her child support. So, Im assuming their is a judiciary lien (is that what its called?) clouding the title.

Second problem is that she cannot afford an attorney.

My question is, what would be the best way to close on this sucker? How can I take care of these legal issues without coming out of pocket myself? Is this a potential deal that I have to walk away from?


Tucson, AZ

Dear Greg,

It is my understanding that you can’t close without the guy showing up. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I’m fairly certain that there’s not much you can do.

My only suggestion is that you should consult an attorney rather than lose a good deal. Perhaps there is a way to get the property closed that a slick Real Estate attorney will be aware of.

I hope you get the deal!

Good Luck,
Jeff Allen

Yes, you can get a judge to order the property sold. It’s done all the time when multiple owners can’t agree.

The cost out of pocket should not be much, and if the house is a good deal, I would front the money out of my own pocket and get the money back at closing.

Have you spoken to him? Whether he owes her money or not, that house should be worth enough so that he walks away with a good chunk. He didn’t show up at closing 10 years ago, but a lot can change in 10 years.

Be very careful before you hire any attorneys, state laws vary a great deal so what is true in one state may not be true in another. Talk to attorney about the laws in your state, or even a title office may be able to tell you.

If the owner is still in any kind of contact with the ex-husband, get her to have him sign over a quit claim deed to her. This should be able to be completed completely by mail and should terminate his interest in the property and allow closing with her only. As for the title cloud, if you are in a state that uses title companies to do closing, talk to them about how they would normally handle this kind of issue and go with that. As long as the title company issues title insurance I wouldn’t worry about it.


As far as the child support lien, see if it is worth more than the proceeds of the house. If so, you may need to talk with the case worker to see if the lien can be partially released.