My husband and I own a house. At escrow, he added his mom to the title, and said that he would remove her in a few years. Now almost 20 years later, her name is still on the title. She never made any payments or lived in the house. She agreed this house does not belong to her. We’re getting a divorce currently and his mom is claiming one-third of the house equity.
Would I be able to fight for this to get my half?
Thank you so much for your time.
Few people do anything by accident. Your husband, I believe, is no exception.
Your husband added his mother to the deed of your home when you married, I’m guessing, as an insurance policy to ensure he would receive two-thirds of the value of your home should you divorce. It’s a dastardly move to make when getting married and buying a family home, but it’s hardly a surprise your mother-in-law is now making clear she (they) want their share.
Understanding the Legal Aspects
“This question raises several legal issues involving family law and real estate issues,” says Matheu Nunn, a divorce lawyer and partner at Einhorn Barbarito in Denville, N.J. “First and foremost, your mother-in-law has a legal interest in the home.” So, if she is not already a party to your divorce case by her own motion, you should be called as a third party.
Seeking Fairness in Property Division
You face an uphill battle to prove your mother-in-law does not have a right to one-third, but you could persuade a divorce court to give you a larger percentage of your husband’s share. “You may be made ‘whole’ through your husband’s interest in the home,” he adds. “That is, family courts divide property based on principles of equity and fairness.”
Potential Grounds for a Favorable Outcome
If a judge concluded relied on your husband’s promise to remove his mother; that his mother acknowledged she did not have a right to the home; and his mother never made any payments or resided in the home — even if they are now singing a different “tune” — a judge could award you one-third of the equity based on your legal ownership, Nunn adds.
Understanding Property Rights in a Divorce
When it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, the judge has the power to make decisions that may impact your financial future. Even though it may seem unlikely, the judge could potentially award a portion of your husband’s equity to your mother-in-law, leaving your husband with a reduced share. However, keep in mind that this is a complex litigation process that requires substantial evidence, involvement of multiple parties, and a formal hearing.
It’s worth noting that if the judge determines that your husband did not handle the family home fairly, he might still walk away with approximately 50% of its value. Additionally, the judge could potentially penalize your husband for his actions.
For those going through a similar situation, it is crucial to exercise caution when engaging in any financial transactions. If something doesn’t make sense or seems unfair, it is within your rights to say no.
Divorce proceedings can be financially complex and emotionally challenging. Understanding your rights and seeking legal advice is essential to protect your financial interests while navigating this difficult time.
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