Am I entitled to half the value of a home if I am listed on the deed as a joint tenant?

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Am I entitled to half the value of a home if I am listed on the deed as a joint tenant?

Fiancee and I purchased a home 2012. The home cost 105,000. I paid the down
payment 30,000, and all mortgage payments until 2015. Fiancee paid off the
remaining mortgage balance with money inherited from her grandmother. My fiancee
and I have split, but she wants to keep the home. I proposed she buyout my
interest in the house. However, she is only willing to pay 32,000 for a buyout
claiming that I am only entitled to what I paid into the property. She has
threatened to file a partition suit against me unless I accept the 32,000.
Please help.

Asked on December 22, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Two equal or co-owners are, as a general matter, entitled  to half the equity, so if you and your fiance are both on the title, you are each entitled to half. That said, a court--such as in a partition suit--would typically adjust for each person's relative contribution in order to be fair or equitable. Say the house is now worth $500k, but was purchased for $400k; one person paid a total of $150k, while the other paid a total of $250k. The court might give that second person, who paid $100k more, the first $100k of equity and then split the remaining $400k of equity 50-50. There are other ways a court might do it, but the principal is, the court would try to be fair and reflect that one person paid significantly more. It would be good to bear that in mind when trying to work out a fair price, since if it goes to litigation, there wlll often--not always but often--be some adjustment if this matter goes to court.


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