Do I Have to Buy Out the Co-Owner on Our Jointly Titled Home?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

Question: DearEsq., I am a co-owner on a home mortgage with my ex (we were never married) and I’m trying to refinance to remove him and reduce my monthly payment. The mortgage is in both our names, however we only lived together and shared the mortgage payment from 2011-2014 (70/30 split because I make more money then him). 2015 through current date, I live in the home and support our three kids, alone. I make all the mortgage payments on my own, including repairs, maintenance, tax, insurance, etc. I also paid all the down payment and closing when we bought the home. I just completed the appraisal and the home has 55% equity as of today. I plan to keep the house for at least 7-10 more years while the kids are young. And even though he has his own home with the woman he cheated on me with, he’s asking for a payout with the refinance. He should not be entitled to any payout. And If he refuses to sign-off from the property, will I be forced to sell and have a partition done? Will the court require me to buy his half out of what the house is worth now regardless of what time period he lived in the home? If the court forces a sale or pay off, can I sue him for all the unpaid mortgage and repairs, maintenance, and other mortgage liabilities? I am located in Oregon. Thank you for any answers or info you can provide.

Answer: Unfortunately, the joint titling of property is very complicated, in large part because different states have different titling and different tenancy options, and differing requirements for each option. That said, in nearly all states, if not all, if the title is held jointly, then every person on the title is entitled to their portion of the property, and if the property is sold then, absent a written and signed agreement to the contrary, each person is entitled to their proportional share of the proceeds.

You will need to work with a property attorney in your state to make sure that everything goes smoothly. That all said, you may want to start by talking with a real estate agent, as they may be as up on the local laws as would be an attorney.