Am I entitled to half of our house if it was purchased before we got married?

Asked about 3 years ago - Kansas City, MO

My husband and I bought a house 4 months before we got married. We were legally common law married at the time. The problem is, my name is not on the house or loan. It is in his and his father's name. He says if we divorce, we will sell the house and split the profit, but I can see him changing his mind and screwing me once it's sold.

Am I legally entitled to half of the profit because we were common law married but not paper married? Kansas does recognize common law marriage, we met all of the requirements, and I was on his insurance as spouse. Can he legally keep me from getting anything?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Margaret Susan Price

    Contributor Level 10

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . The answer could depend on whether you file in Missouri or Kansas. I am not a Kansas lawyer, and I do not know how a court in Kansas would rule on this issue. Your location says you are in Missouri. I can address Missouri law on this issue. Common law marriage was abolished in Missouri in 1921. His verbal promise about real property is not enforceable, so if he does not make you an owner through Quit Claim Deed, you may well end up getting nothing from the value of the house.

    Ms. Price's posting here on avvo.com does not create an attorney-client relationship, and does not constitute... more
  2. Julie Danielle Hixson

    Contributor Level 9

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If you met all the requirements of a common law marriage in Kansas but filed in Missouri, Missouri may still recognize the validity of your Kansas common law marriage because Missouri looks to the law in the state of the marriage to determine whether the marriage was valid. If your common law marriage occurred entirely in Kansas and you met all the requirements there, Missouri might give that common law marriage "full faith and credit", but I'm not entirely sure they would. There may be a public policy argument why Missouri would not recognize it.

    Even if Missouri did not recognize your common law marriage, you still might have a marital interest in the property, depending on the circumstances. If the house was purchased in anticipation of marriage, that is one argument you may have that it has a marital component. Another argument may be if your husband has paid the mortgage payments with marital funds since you have been married. Also, if you have improved upon the house and used marital funds or marital labor to improve upon the house, the value of the improvements to the home may be a marital component.

    Parsing out marital and separate components to property is a tricky part of family law so I would advise that you consult with a family law attorney.

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  3. Florian Eqrem Tabaku

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If you are married by common law then you are still required to divorce the same way as any other married couple gets divorced. There is no such thing as a common law divorce. Because the house is in your husband's name and his father's name, you may only be entitled to the interest your husband has if KS is a state where any property becomes marital property upon marriage. The property will be divided accordingly in the divorce proceedings.

    It seems that you are asking this question in Missouri and if you have always lived there before and after the marriage, then you may not even be married because Missouri does not recognize common law marriage but it does recognize common law marriages established in states that allow common law marriage. If you were never married then you would not be entitled to any of the proceeds from the sale of the house. You should contact an attorney where you reside to discuss your rights in detail.

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