On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Unmarried Couples on Thursday, March 12, 2015.
When you and your significant other have been together for an extended period of time, it is likely that you may purchase a large asset together, such as a house. This will likely occur when your relationship is in a healthy and happy state, but you should still consider the consequences should you break up in the future. Unmarried couples’ property disputes can be difficult to handle. The way in which you and your partner decide to purchase this property could be the difference between a relatively simple breakup and a serious legal battle.
If you purchase the house as joint tenants, you are each sharing an equal interest in the property. If you purchase as tenants-in-common, you are each sharing a distinct portion of the property that is not necessarily equal. An example of such a distinct portion would be if one party paid for three-fourths of the purchase price; in this instance, the other party only shares one-quarter of the property. This article further explains the different property purchasing options.
This may not seem important at the time of purchase, but in the event that an unmarried couple splits, it could play a huge part in determining how the property is divided. In Missouri, such a split would depend on how the property was purchased, with the division reflecting the same portions as the joint tenant or tenant-in-common arrangement. However, if one party purchased the property in their own name, things can get messy.
If the property is in your partner’s name, they will likely keep the property if the two of you break up, even if you invested heavily into the property with your own money or labor. If you hope to make a case for your stake in the property, your best bet will be to prove in writing that you contributed to the purchasing or maintenance of the house monetarily.