Can my soon to be ex-wife sue me if I bought a house and the title is in both mine and my girlfriend’s name?

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Can my soon to be ex-wife sue me if I bought a house and the title is in both mine and my girlfriend’s name?

I have just obtained divorce papers and am going to file soon. I also just purchased a house and the deed is in my name and my girlfriend’s name. My wife may be vindictive and try to obtain financial income from this purchase. Does she have any legal rights to sue me?

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Family Law, Illinois

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding property you purchased with your girlfriend while you are still married.  Your question was whether your wife could sue you for buying this property with your girlfriend, as you believe it could be seen as income.  First, gaining a property, unless it was a rental property, would not be considered income. 

 

However, she may be entitled to the house in a roundabout way.  Since you are not divorced and there is no court approved divorce decree, the marital assets have not been distributed yet.  Depending on the state laws governing your divorce, the property will be separated 50/50 or by equitable distribution, meaning that the court will divide the property by what the court deems is fair and just. 

 

The court may view your recent home purchase that you spent marital, shared finances to purchase this home.  Unless your girlfriend paid for the home by herself, the finances that you share with your wife were used to purchase the home.  If you did use shared money, or money that the court would deem she was entitled to, then you may need to compensate for in some other way to make up for your recent purchase. 

 

This would be the same thing if prior to getting a divorce your wife went and bought a new vehicle using your bank account, and then she was going to keep the car when you got divorced.  If she had not purchased the vehicle you would have received part of that money during the divorce settlement.

 

If you have further questions regarding how to protect your ownership in this new property, you may want to contact a family law attorney in your area to assist you.


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