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Christopher B, Esq.
Christopher B, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 5702
Experience:  Attorney licensed for 17 years specializing in various fields.
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I live in Michigan and purchases property with my father as

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I live in Michigan and purchases property with my father as a joint owner. Since then I was married and now getting a divorce. My spouse wants half of the value of the entire house, claiming my father has no interest. Can she do this?
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in MI family court?
Customer: We are going through the divorce process now.
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: Yes and she has been vague about my dads interest being protected.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Not at this time

My name is ***** ***** I will be helping you today. Thank you for your question and thank you for using justanswer.com. Give me a bit and I will draft you an answer.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you

No, she can only claim marital interests in property that you actually own. If your father is a joint owner in the house, then he basically has 50% ownership in the house (depending on the actual agreement in the deed). She cannot ask for something that you do not own. If you bring evidence of that fact to the court then the court will value the house appropriately and not add in the entire value of the house into its calculations.

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Customer: replied 4 months ago.
She is threatening that me will have to testify he provides funds as a joint owner. Does it have to go that far? Or is she using that to try to get me to settle?

It really does not matter unless she proves that you were trying to fraudulently hide assets from her for the purposes of divorce. If this was done long ago and doesn't involve something like that, it doesn't matter if he provided any funds. It is owned jointly and she cannot touch it. It sounds like she is just trying to put pressure on you. She only can ask for property acquired during the marriage that you own, that is marital property.

Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer if satisfied. There should be numbers from 1-5 or smiley faces next to my answer to choose from. This will cost you nothing extra and will ensure that I will be compensated by the site for my time with you. See link on how to rate: http://ww2.justanswer.com/help/how-do-i-rate-answer-hl

Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Just one additional question. I purchased the land with my father jointly and since I was married, built a house on that land. Still, however, the deed with my dads name on it. Does that materially change her claim?

If the home is the marital home then she might be able to claim a portion of it. Especially if marital funds were used for it. It is really up to the Judge. If the land was jointly owned but the house not, it would also be pretty easy for the court to add in half of the value of the land, etc. This might be a difficult issue but the court will have to take in all of the facts and make a judgment regarding the value of the land and home and how much might be attributable to the marriage. At the end of the day, you cannot give more than what you have if your father owns an interest and the court will take that into account most likely.

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Customer: replied 4 months ago.
What if there isn’t a separate deed to the house?

If the house is the marital home, then the Judge will just have to ascertain its value (because you own the home and property jointly the court may not attribute more than 50% to the marriage or may do more). It is really impossible to say but you should know that the court does take into account the value of the home if it is where the family lived and if marital asset were put into the house. It can get a bit complicated.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
We did put marital funds into building the house but my dad also gave funds, our income and assets don’t support we were able to come up with it all on our own. He is willing to sign an affidavit stating he gave personal funds to building the home. But we don’t know how much exactly, because we never kept records. Does it have to be exact in the amount?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
are the courts more inclined to keep his value out of the marital assets if he contributed financially to building the marital home, as a joint owner?

No it doesn't have to be exact. If your father put money into the home and property and helped build it in exchange for partial ownership in the home, that is what you need to concentrate on. If it is truely intended for him to be a joint owner then the court will take that into account. It is hard for me to give you an exact opinion as there are a lot of moving parts for this but property that is owned jointly and not attributable as marital property should not be taken into account as marital property by the court. The courts are more inclined to keep his value out if you used money and labor to build the home in exchange for a joint ownership interest. I would really appreciate it if you could rate my answer. Thank you.

Christopher B, Esq. and 2 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you so much for the positive rating and the generous bonus. It really means a lot and is greatly appreciated. If you ever have another question on the site, do not hesitate to ask for me by name and I will get to your question ASAP. Thank you again.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your help.

Thank you and good luck.