My Girlfriend and I are Breaking up, How Should I Handle Property Issues?

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“I am Tenant in common with my girlfriend and we are breaking up. The mortgages are in my name and the deed is in hers and mine as tenants in common. I paid all mortgage payments, Taxes, Insurances and down payments with the exception of $1500 towards the down payment. The house is worth basically what I owe if not a little more. I wish to keep the house and have her name removed from the deed. If she refuses and all she can show is contribution towards Electric bill, will I be forced to go to court to sell the property and have partition done? Will the court require me to buy her half out of what the house is worth regardless of what is owed to bank. If court forces a Forecloser sale and brings less than what is owed am I the only obligator of unpaid balances? What are my rights. I am located in New York State. Thank you for any answers or info you can provide.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

I can only answer generally, and not with respect to New York law specifically. In general, co-owners have the right to partition property if they cannot come to an agreement. In a partition sale, however, you should be entitled to an adjustment for any disproportionate investment you made in the property. The mortgagor would get paid off in a partition sale, same as any other sale.

So, it’s a question of doing the math. Find out what the laws are in your state (this may require a consultation visit to an attorney), and figure out what you would have to pay your girlfriend IF you partitioned the property and you bought it at the partition sale. That should be the starting point for negotiations to buy her out without bothering with the expense of a court proceeding.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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