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legalgems
legalgems, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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My aunt lives in her "house" but is under my uncle's name.

Customer Question

My aunt lives in her "house" but is under my uncle's name. She paid all the bills in relation to the mortgage, electricity,water and taxes. My aunt has asked my uncle to put her name on the deed and he has refused. Does she have any legal rights to the house since she paid all the bills. She also has all the receipts to show proof.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  legalgems replied 4 months ago.

The parties are married, correct? When was the house purchased?

Expert:  legalgems replied 4 months ago.

In case you come back on line when I am offline I will provide an answer, assuming the parties are married.

Basically NY looks to marital property as anything acquired during the marriage (except for by gift/inheritance). Separate property can become marital property if it is used by both parties, and also if one party makes contributions to that property-it is essentially a commingling issue- ie the daily use of the property transforms the identity of the property, from separate to marital. It is in essence considered a gift by action so to speak.

When dividing marital property the court will look to effectuate an equitable division of the property- basically to divide it in a fair and just manner - often equal, but only if that is fair.

The factors the court will consider are:

The income and property of each spouse at the time of the marriage, and at the time of the divorce;

The length of the marriage and the age and health of both spouses;
If there are minor children involved, the need of the spouse who has custody of the children to live in the marital residence and to use or own its household contents;
The loss of inheritance and pension rights of each spouse because of the divorce;
The loss of health insurance benefits of each spouse because of the divorce;
Any award of support or maintenance the court will be making;
Whether one spouse made contributions to marital property that the spouse does not have title to; for example, where one spouse helps the other spouse increase their ability to earn more money by getting a degree, license or certification;
The liquid or non-liquid character of all marital property (“liquid” means that the property can easily be converted to cash);
The probable future financial circumstances of each party;
The impossibility or difficulty of determining the value of certain assets, like interests in a business, and whether one spouse should be awarded the business so it can be run without interference by the other spouse;
The tax consequences to each party;
Whether either spouse has wasted or used up any of the marital property while the divorce was ongoing;
Whether either spouse transferred or disposed of marital property at less than market value, knowing that the divorce would be happening;
any other factor the court deems relevant.

So as you can see, the individual judge assigned to the case has great discretion, so it is difficult to predict in advance what the judge may rule. An attorney that is familiar with the particular judge may be better able to provide an estimation based on the judge's past rulings.

Normally the judge will not get involved until one party files for divorce, or when one party passes and attempts to bequest the property to a third party.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
They were never legally married. Does she have a legal leg to stand on? Or, is she out the money she put into the house ?
Expert:  legalgems replied 4 months ago.

So long as one alleges and the court finds there was either an oral or written contract providing for reimbursement for monies paid, then they would be entitled for reimbursement. If one person pays all the bills, and this exceeds what would be fair rental value, then the court is more likely to find an oral contract of reimbursement for such expenses.

Expert:  legalgems replied 3 months ago.

Hi- just checking in to see if you needed clarification on any of the above information. If so please post here (there is no additional charge for this) and I will do my best to get you the requested information.

Thank you!

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
They were never married but have been "together" for over 30 years and produced 3 children together. Wouldn't my aunt be considered a common law wife even though they were never legally married. I would hate to see her not get her fair share of the house considering she paid all the bills towards the house . And , she has all the receipts to prove it.
Expert:  legalgems replied 3 months ago.

NY does not, unfortunately, recognize common law marriage unless it occurred in a state that does allow for this; those states are Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, DC.

Otherwise it will not be recognized in NY.

However, if the individual can prove there was an oral or written (or even implied) contract providing for reimbursement or a share of the assets (easier to prove if there is documentation that both parties contributed) then the court may, under its equitable powers, award that person an interest/reimbursement based on equity (versus statute).

Further questions? Please post here to continue the chat.

Satisfied? Kindly rate positively so I receive credit for assisting you. I hope that you feel I have earned

5 stars *****

as I strive to provide my customers with great service.

(no additional charges are incurred).

Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

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