I'm going through a divorce and everything is finished except for the house we bought while we were married. He said in court that we were renting it from his mother. We bought it in 2000, 2 years after we were married. When he said that I went on the county website to check the property title and he put the house in his mother's name. I don't know what to do.
You need an experienced family law attorney (at least 10 years experience) who has dealt with real estate issues like this. Go prepared with some knowledge when you interview prospective lawyers so you know they are competent in this area.
There is a rebuttable presumption that property acquired during marriage is community no matter how titled. (Fam. Code, § 760.) Often property is acquired in one spouse's name because of the other spouse's bad credit, so title is not dispositive.
Spouses have a high fiduciary duty to each other. (Fam. Code, § 721.) This means they must deal fairly with each other and not do things like change how a property is titled. A breach of this fiduciary duty as you describe can possibly lead to you receiving 100% of the property. (Fam. Code, § 1101(h).) If your spouse transferred title to his mother to deprive you of your interest, even if he was the sole person on title, you are probably looking at fraud under Civ. Code, § 3294. If he somehow signed your name to transfer title on a quitclaim deed, it is definitely fraud.
Many other factors are in play here that you need to discuss with your attorney, including whether there was a down payment from either spouse's separate property funds.
In addition to the wise the answer of Mr. Hornibrook, I would add that it is important to know when he put the title in his mother’s name. I would also like to know whether it was in both names when you purchased it. In essence, someone needs to examine the chain of title to see who took title and when. If that is a clear set of changes, this could be a very clear outcome as well.
You need a family law attorney to help you with the house matter.
Sign up to receive a 10-part series of useful information and legal advice about the divorce process.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline