My husband and I bought his parents’ home a few months before we got married. It was in foreclosure and sat for about two years before we even met — no one in the family wanted it. So, we decided to purchase it.
The home is on family property and the home is now in my name (as my credit was better). We both contributed equally to the down payment. But my husband’s name is not on the deed. I have been hesitant to put his name on it because things have been rocky and I’m not sure if divorce is in our future.
‘Selling it would make me look like a terrible person.’
In my mind, not putting him on the deed means that if we get divorced I can sell the house and move on. I don’t know how true or realistic that is given the sentimental connection he has to the home. Also, what would a judge do or say? Selling it would make me look like a terrible person.
But I am concerned that if we get a divorce I would be stuck with a mortgage and I am sure my husband would not want to sell, so it would be a very messy situation. Did I mention we’re on the family property — with other family members sharing the land as well?
I know he wants to be on the deed and it would make him feel better. Is there another way to do this so I feel I am protected if things do go in another direction? I did add a section in my last will and testament that he would get the house. But that doesn’t feel like enough — or is it?
Wife and Property Owner
Dear Wife and Property Owner,
It’s time to choose a lane. Put his name on the deed — or not.
If you decide to keep the house in your name, tell your husband why — your fears about how you may be headed toward divorce — and consider writing a postnuptial agreement on how you should divide the house in the event that you split, taking into account that he paid half of the down payment and has paid half of the mortgage. Be upfront and direct.
One option if you divorce: You could offer to quit-claim the house to your husband, assuming he can improve his credit score and take over the mortgage. But if you used marital funds to pay the mortgage, the house is likely already community property. If not, decide your plan of action. It sounds like whatever you do, you want it to be fair.
Should you decide to sell the home in the event that you divorce — assuming your husband and/or no one in his family is willing or able to purchase it — let go of the idea of being considered a good, bad or terrible person. You can either live with your actions and stand over them, or you can’t. That is a decision that only you can make.
The longer you ruminate alone about this dilemma the bigger the issue will become. A lawyer will advise you on whether your husband’s contributions compromise your sole ownership. If the original plan was to buy this house together as a couple, I would advise you to do everything you can to uphold the original agreement.
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