Can my soon to be ex-wife sue me if I bought a house and the title is in both mine and my girlfriend’s name?

UPDATED: Dec 2, 2011

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Can my soon to be ex-wife sue me if I bought a house and the title is in both mine and my girlfriend’s name?

I have just obtained divorce papers and am going to file soon. I also just purchased a house and the deed is in my name and my girlfriend’s name. My wife may be vindictive and try to obtain financial income from this purchase. Does she have any legal rights to sue me?

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Family Law, Illinois


L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding property you purchased with your girlfriend while you are still married.  Your question was whether your wife could sue you for buying this property with your girlfriend, as you believe it could be seen as income.  First, gaining a property, unless it was a rental property, would not be considered income. 


However, she may be entitled to the house in a roundabout way.  Since you are not divorced and there is no court approved divorce decree, the marital assets have not been distributed yet.  Depending on the state laws governing your divorce, the property will be separated 50/50 or by equitable distribution, meaning that the court will divide the property by what the court deems is fair and just. 


The court may view your recent home purchase that you spent marital, shared finances to purchase this home.  Unless your girlfriend paid for the home by herself, the finances that you share with your wife were used to purchase the home.  If you did use shared money, or money that the court would deem she was entitled to, then you may need to compensate for in some other way to make up for your recent purchase. 


This would be the same thing if prior to getting a divorce your wife went and bought a new vehicle using your bank account, and then she was going to keep the car when you got divorced.  If she had not purchased the vehicle you would have received part of that money during the divorce settlement.


If you have further questions regarding how to protect your ownership in this new property, you may want to contact a family law attorney in your area to assist you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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