Real Estate

What Rights Do You Have If You Are Not On The Deed For Your Spouse's Property?

If you marry a person who already owns real estate, do you automatically own any interest in their property?  If your spouse buys real estate in their separate name during your marriage, do you have any interest?  The answers to these two questions are very different.

Any real estate that either party owns at the time of marriage is that party’s “separate property.” The new spouse does not gain any interest in the property by simply getting married.  However, if there is a debt owed on that property and the debt is paid during the marriage from marital funds, then it is possible that the non-titled spouse may gain a “marital interest” in the property. If the parties make improvements to the separate property, the amount by which the improvements increase the value of the property can be considered a marital interest.  This “marital interest” is not an ownership interest, but a factor that could be considered in a divorce property division.

After the parties are married, either spouse can acquire real estate in their separate names. As a general rule, real estate acquired during marriage is marital property, regardless of how it is titled.  However, if the spouse who acquired the property can demonstrate that all of the purchase price came from their separate property, then they could potentially show the court that the real estate is also their separate property.

The parties can change these rules by having a Prenuptial Agreement or an Agreement entered after they are married. They can agree that a party’s separate property will remain separate, regardless of the use of marital funds for debt or improvements.  They can agree that property acquired in separate names is the separate property of that party.   If you want to control the effect that the law has regarding these types of real estate transactions, Irvine Law Firm can assist you with drafting the appropriate documents.