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Oct 9 2022

Changes to Title

Continuing REAL ESTATE ISSUES IN DIVORCE

Sometimes either before the marriage or during the marriage, there are all sorts of activities that change these three components to real estate. Perhaps the parties start dating before they’re married at which time, one party owned the house. They’re dating long enough that they decide to put the other party on the house title. Then they finally get married. How does that affect various things?

Does it matter if spouses change title during the marriage, whether that’s in conjunction with, because of new mortgages, refinances, these sort of things, or just sometimes it’s just the parties making changes?

By and large, while there still can be premarital claims, any changes that come to the title after the parties are married are just title changes. They don’t change one’s right to equity in the house, and they also don’t necessarily get somebody off the hook for the mortgage if maybe they’re no longer titled there. Now, that’s general advice because sometimes there are some other elements that come into play, especially if there’s some postnuptial agreement, similar to a prenuptial agreement, but signed after marriage.

If it’s being done in conjunction there, especially qualifying for public benefits, for instance, Medicaid or disability or something like that. Now, if you went around to the extent that title is changed and somebody was assigned on real estate prior to the marriage, then that certainly has a direct influence over any premarital claims that are made, because normally, if somebody say owns a house for 10 years before they’re married and it just they own the house outright for 10 years before they’re married, then all of a sudden, even though they may be married, let’s say for seven more years, right, and then it’s a divorce.

Well, the marital equity only attaches for the last seven years. The title may have never changed. It may have been the same mortgage the entire 17 years, but it still creates our need to calculate what the marital equity was that arose out of those seven years of marriage. However, if instead of 10 years of homeownership and [inaudible 00:20:05] single person titling before getting married, if the parties decided to retitle the house and add what is the girlfriend in that situation, say, four years before they finally get hitch, that husband in that circumstance is not going to be able to lay claim to a 10-year premarital equity carve out. But instead, we’re going to have to deal with whether he’s able to claim any, even six years, because frankly, his basis for…

You must have adequate tracing of showing your premarital nature. That also includes certain numbers as to what the values are at the time that you purchased the house 10 years prior: what the value was, and what the mortgage was at that time at the four-year mark at the time of the wedding. It might be a tall order to make that premarital claim at all. But even if they can make the claim, it’s going to be reduced to those six years because it was jointly titled. So, most notably if the nature of the title changing was not adding people, but then turning around and taking somebody off during the marriage, it is still marital equity, even if it went from jointly titled down to one of the married persons.

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