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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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