Former are a former owner’s rights regarding a home transfer?

My in-laws built a house and put it in my sister-in-laws name. She got divorced and then signed the house over to my husband and I. My father-in-law couldn’t afford it anymore so we sold it this past year. We give him $1000 a month. Now he has decided that he is going to sue us for selling the house. It was never in his name. Can he do that?

Asked on December 7, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No if the title was not in his name, your father in law cannot sue for selling a home quit claimed to you.  It appears that your in laws built a home and essentially gifted it or quit claimed it to their daughter to avoid tax issues or other issues.  When she divorced, she signed the home over to her brother and his wife (you) so as to probably avoid the home being seen as an asset of her marriage.  If the whole time your father in law and mother in law were living in the home, they might have seen it as their home but legally they were tenants or simply "visitors".  If your father in law was paying the bills (home mortgage), then really he was gifting that money the whole time and that did not create a property interest in the home.  The issue of you giving him $1000.00 a month to have him pay the mortgage is not of concern, because the house title (deed) is still in your name.  He can sue but he probably won't prevail.

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