Red Flags in the Purchase of a Home with Your Friend, Fiancé, or Spouse

Congratulations. You are buying a home. You are so excited. Depending on the circumstances you need to understand the treatment of the property based on your relationship. The results may be a shock!

A. A couple who never marries purchases a home together

In Texas, ownership of real property follows the law of inception of title

  • If you purchase the property together, both parties on the deed, the couple own the home together. The property would be treated as a partnership and would fall under the umbrella of real estate law.
  • If you purchase the property in one person’s name, one party on the deed (sometimes to get a better interest rate due to credit scores), the house is probably the property of the other party. You might have a right to recoup any of the down payment you contributed but you would not be entitled to a percentage of ownership.

B. A couple purchases a home and subsequently marries

  • If you purchase a home prior to marriage and only one party is on the deed, and you subsequently marry, the home would not be part of the marital estate. It would be the separate property of the spouse that purchased the home. If you contributed to the down payment, you might have a reimbursement claim, but you would not be entitled to a percentage of ownership.
  • If you make improvements to a home that belongs to the other spouse, you would not become an owner of the home. You may be entitled to a reimbursement claim for the cost of the improvements adjusted not to exceed the increased value the improvements added to the property.

C. A couple marries and then purchases a home

  • If you are married at the time of the purchase, the house belongs to both spouses except in some unusual circumstances. Even if you are not on the deed to the house, you will probably be included as a debtor on the mortgage. If one spouse paid part or all of the down payment with money that was separate property, the house may be a mixed character asset (both community and separate) or still a community asset and the spouse might be entitled to a reimbursement claim for the separate funds or a percentage of the proceeds.

The Vaught Law Firm Can Help

As you can see, the timing of the purchase of a home and the marital status of the couple at the time of the purchase can dramatically affect who is the owner of the property. You should consult with a family lawyer to understand your unique situation.

The Vaught Law Firm serves Austin, Texas and surrounding areas. Contact us for a confidential consultation.

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