If faily easy. As long as you have the location or owner name. Contact a title company in the area of the property. Ask for a property profile including the deed, and leins for the property. If you feel the property is worth keeping the title co will let you know what needs to done to get the property in your name. Usually, they dont charge for most of this. And you can do it all from your town. You will have to have the new deed notarized, after that you can mail it back to the title co or county recorder for recording. So no you dont need to be there in person.
First of all, I would check with your county recorder and have a look at the most recent recorded deed. This will give a good idea of who owns the property. This may not be the only answer, in divorce things can change rapidly, and deeds can take a few days to "catch up" to the public files. If both owners are demanding payment, one of them should be able to provide documentation signed by the other, as to whom should recieve the rent. For instance at least be served a notice of changes of terms of tenancy, giving notice that from now on the rent should be paid to such n such. Hopefully, its signed by both parties and there would be some documentation attached.. By the way, while you have the recorder records, it would be a good idea to check for recorded notices of default.
Escrow is a private matter between buyer and seller. As such its very hard to determine exactly the number of escrows at any given time. Your local Realtor could tell you how many properties are pending in the MLS. Still that leaves out most commmercial, and FSBO deals.
The majority of people surveyed agreed they would preferr to own their home than rent. As for the investment, investments have risk and cycles. The the difference with real estate, compared many other types of investments, is if the investment goes down you can still live in it!