If my now ex-fiance and I bought a cabin 2 years ago and he paid cash for the cabin but both our names are on the title, do I have any rights?

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If my now ex-fiance and I bought a cabin 2 years ago and he paid cash for the cabin but both our names are on the title, do I have any rights?

We are in our 60’s and intended to use the cabin as a summer/fall retreat for the rest of our lives. We chose a certain area because I had been going there throughout my childhood and adult life, and started bringing my son there when he was an infant. It is the place I consider home and still have many connections there, and of course, countless memories. I found the cabin, made the offer and worked closely with the realtor. We purchased it just over 1 1/2 years ago. My ex-fiance and I worked around the clock on the cabin for months after we bought it and returned the following summer and fall and did the same. We both bought supplies and materials, and we both paid laborers for their time. My ex, however, paid for most of the renovations. Anyway, we split up in October of last year and now my ex wants my name off the title but said that I could use it whenever I wanted to. There are too many painful memories there for me, so I am not interested in spending time there. I’m also not interested in taking my name off the title. I countered with a suggestion that we sell it. I thought he could recoup the purchase price as well as what he spent on the renovations, and cover the realtor’s fee and I would get whatever the profit is or at least receive a percentage. He’s thinking about it but I’m wondering if I actually own 50% of the

cabin and entitled to 50% of the sale price. I do believe he should also recoup what he spent on the renovations. If we keep the cabin, what are my rights? Also, can he legally take me off the title?

Asked on March 22, 2019 under Real Estate Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) He can't force you off the title; you are an owner the same as him, and one owner cannot remove the other.
2) If you sell the property (see below) and cannot agree on who gets how much and the matter ended up in court for a resolution, the court would most likely give him more of the proceeds to reflect and compensate him for the fact that he paid cash and for more of the renovations. Courts tty to do "equity," or fairness, in deciding matters like this, and having put more money in than you (and you both having put in time/effort), fair would be to compensate him for that investment. So a court would most likely first have the costs of sale paid; then reimburse him for the surplus of costs he paid; then split the remainder (if any) 50-50 between the two of you. Use this as a guide in negotiating, to see what might be fair.
3) If you and he can't work it out voluntarily (e.g. with him buying you out), either of you could bring a legal action (lawsuit) traditionally called an action "for partition" to get a court order requiring the property's sale.


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