My Husband And I Purchased Our Property Before We Married, But Its Under My Husband’s Name, What Are My Rights?

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“I have been married to and have lived in the same home with my husband for the last 15 years. Just after becoming engaged we started looking for a spot to build our home. Although we weren’t married at the time the property was being purchased, we both contributed to the down payment. Everything was done in my husbands name only, and his name is the only name that appears on the mortgage. What steps do I need to take to ensure my rights, if any, to this property?”

[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.]

It would be nice if you two could cooperate to transfer the title into both of your names. It also would be helpful for you to track down any records you may have of separate property contributions to the purchase of the land or building materials. In California, all contribtions made towards the house from earnings during the marriage would be community property, but that would not get you to half ownership under the facts you describe. Should you to ever part ways, and you do not “fix” the title, you will have to deal with the rebuttable presumption concerning ownership that comes with a pre-marriage purchase of property in one person’s name alone. You do have assets at risk.

The lesson others should glean, is that no matter how much in love you are, it does not hurt to put your agreements and understandings in writing.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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