I have a question about my right to equity earned in the house.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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I have a question about my right to equity earned in the house.

We have been married for 9 years and I have been helping to pay the bills for over
10 years including the mortgage. I have helped to raise my three stepchildren also
they are all over 18 and out of the house. My wife and I work for the same
employer making the same wage with the same pension and benefits. My wife had
the house in her fathers name for several years and then refinanced recently and
has the house in her name. What rights do I have to the equity earned in the

Asked on September 23, 2016 under Family Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Texas is a community property state.  This means that anything acquired during the marriage is community property.  Your question implies that the house in question was acquired prior to the marriage.  If the house was purchased or obtained prior to the marriage, then the house would be considered your wife's separate property because it was acquired prior to marriage.  If this is your situation, you are not without some recourse though.  You may be able to make a community reimbursement claim.  Basically, the community estate (your income and her income combined) asks the court to order her separate estate to reimburse the community estate for the funds used by the community estate to pay for the mortgage. 
If the house was acquired during the marriage, then is would be considered community property and you would be entitled to a fair and equitable portion of the equity.  Considering that the title did not shift to her name until some point during the marriage, you can potentially make the argument that the house was acquired during the marriage.  In Texas, the name on the title isn't nearly as important as the when.  This means that even though she titled the house in her name, if the property was officially acquired during the marriage, then it's community property subject to being divided between the husband and wife.
You really need to get copies of any of the documents relating to the transfer and let a family law attorney review them.  They can help you decide which approach is best for your situation.   She may not be willing to share any of the docs with you, but you can obtain a good share of the docs needed by a trip to the county clerk's office where title documents are recorded.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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