How to remove a frivolous lien?

7 months ago

How can i release a lien on my property that has no merit. The recorded lien was filed by my ex spouse who legally released the home to me in the divorce decree. Additionally, the lien doesn’t name an amount nor, what work was done, when the work was performed or any substantial documenation to support filing a lien. According to my understanding a lien is filed when work on the property is performed and payment has not been made. This is definitely not the case. This is a disguntled, angry, bitter ex-spouse grasping for straws. In my opinion this is a frivolous lien.

Thank you in advance.

CEO Levelset
38 reviews

Dealing with a frivolous mechanics’ lien can be frustrating, and there aren’t any “immediate” remedies.  The good news, though, is that there are many powerful options available to you.

Situations When Mechanics Liens Can & Cannot Be Filed in Washington

Every state is a little different in setting forth when a mechanics lien can and cannot be filed. However, every state – including Washington – will exclude the circumstance you describe. Generally speaking, the mechanic’s lien remedy is available to contractors, suppliers, and others who provide labor and/or materials to improve a property.

There are 3 notes I’d like to make with regard to your situation.

1.  If your ex-spouse did do “improvements” to the property there may be some fringe arguments that qualify for mechanics lien protections.  However, it would seem that this kind of option would have been contemplated and squashed by any divorce decree, and/or would have substantial trouble absent an agreement for the spouse to be compensated for the work (i.e. a construction contract existed in some way).  This is not likely give your description, but worth noting.

2. There are many different types of liens that exist aside from “mechanic liens.”  Mechanic liens are strictly for construction/improvement situations. However, there are many other types of ways for liens to get filed against properties. Again, I don’t think these apply here, either, but is worth noting in case there are other relevant facts.

3. Liens can be filed even when there aren’t any rights to file a lien.  This is commonly misunderstood by people.  If someone doesn’t have a “right” to file a mechanics lien, they can still very well go to the county recorder and record one anyway.  There is no gatekeeper out there making deteriminations about who can and cannot file a lien.  If your ex-spouse went to the county recorder to file a lien, for example, no one is going to examine his/her lien rights.  If your ex-spouse used Microsoft Word to fill out the lien, then, of course, Word is not going to pop up a warning and stop him.  The county recorder and the program (i.e. Word) doesn’t know!  And really, can’t know.  Neither the county recorder nor the software program has any business making the legal determination of whether your ex spouse can or cannot file the lien.  Therefore, this is a long, winding way to say that even if your ex spouse has zero lien rights…he/she can still file the lien.

…it’s just left up to you to dispute it.

How to get a frivolous lien off your property

You have two options here.

First, you can just wait.  Mechanic liens in Washington expire 8 months after they are filed.  Your ex-spouse will need to file a lawsuit to enforce the lien within this 8 month period. If the facts are so poor for him/her, I highly doubt they will do this. In all likelihood, this lien is dead in 8 months’ time.  Therefore, if you just wait (and you can — so long as you don’t need to refinance, etc.), then you’ll be able to get the lien off without as much effort.

Second, you can file an action in court to have the lien removed.  We wrote about this process in some detail within this article: How to remove a frivolous mechanics lien.  For this, you can try to do it on your own, but you’re going to benefit substantially by getting an attorney to help.  You can find a directory of some Washington construction lawyers here.

Good luck!

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