Do I have any legal rights in a home that I paid the downpayment on but which is in my ex-wife’s name?

UPDATED: Oct 25, 2011

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Do I have any legal rights in a home that I paid the downpayment on but which is in my ex-wife’s name?

My wife and I married 16 years ago and divorced 4 years alter. We reunited 4 years ago (not married ) have 2 sons. I am a contractor and due to the decline in construction we made a decision to move to the state in which both of our parents had retired. I found a house online; my mom was the realtor. I supplied the $10,000 down payment but my name is not on the loan (my credit was shot at that time). We have lived in the house for 4 years now and I have done extensive remodeling. We have again decided to go our separate ways. Do I have any legal rights to the home?

Asked on October 25, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Montana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You need to consult with an attorney about the specifics of your situations, since the details and facts are critical.

First, regardless of whose name is on the mortgage, whose name is one the title? It's not always the case that the mortgagor is necessarily the owner, or vice versa. If your name is on the title to the home, you should be an owner. Your question is unclear about whether only the mortgage or the mortgage and title are both solely in your ex-wife's name.

Second, even if your name is not on the title, it may be possible to establish some equitable interest in the home based on providing a down payment, helping pay mortgage or taxes, investing in remolding, etc. A lot will turn on both the exent of investments you made and also on the intention of you and your ex-wife at the time. This is where you have to discuss the situation in detail with an attorney, so he or she can evaluate your rights. Good luck.

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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