What Can Unmarried Couples Do When They Are Buying a Home?

The decision to buy a home is perhaps the most significant financial decision we鈥檒l ever make. This is because you are making a substantial financial investment in a home purchase. Also, you are making an emotional decision about where you will be raising your family and planting roots for yourself. Most people stay in their homes for at least five years before moving. So, the house you choose to buy directly impacts your long-term future.

Personally, I find exploring homes, analyzing the real estate market, and observing purchasing behaviors fascinating. Perhaps the abundance of home buying shows on television, or just curiosity, leads my wife and me to explore real estate websites.聽We like seeing what houses are selling for and what homes in our area are going for. With that said, buying a home and being intentional about purchasing that home is anything but fun and games.

In the past, people typically bought homes with their spouses. If you鈥檙e interested, a quick Google search can easily provide you with the percentage of homes purchased with a spouse from the 1950s to the present day. I am confident that the statistics show that single individuals and unmarried couples buy more houses today than in prior generations.

The real estate market, foreclosure rates, and overall homeownership鈥檚 future impact remains undetermined. However, understanding the legal consequences of buying a home, whether with a spouse or an unmarried partner, is crucial. This isn鈥檛 about judgment or preaching, but if you鈥檙e contemplating purchasing a home with someone you鈥檙e not married to, it鈥檚 crucial to pay close attention to the information provided in today鈥檚 blog post.

Being in an excellent position to buy a home is just as important as the type of home you purchase or where you purchase it. As an attorney, I can see many people who make life decisions when they鈥檙e doing well financially and when they鈥檙e doing poor financially. The thing about making decisions when you are doing well financially is that you have options and have less pressure on your shoulders to do something that may not be the best for you and your family. For example, if you have money in the bank, an emergency fund, and a solid career, the new likely wouldn鈥檛 feel like you have to buy a house right now when interest rates are low or when housing prices are typical due to changes in the economy.

Financial Constraints and Homebuying

When you have less money saved and lack a solid career, you might feel your time and options for buying a home are limited, leading you to make decisions that aren鈥檛 in your best interest. The simple truth is that having fewer options can make you act desperately, and desperate people typically make poor decisions. You often make spur-of-the-moment decisions that are usually not well thought out or intentional.

Purchasing a house with your spouse provides several advantages over buying with someone you are not married to. It doesn鈥檛 matter if the person who purchased the home with is your roommate, girlfriend, boyfriend, parent, brother, or another person who is not your spouse. The law protects married people who purchased a house together in ways that do not cover other people. That is what I would like to discuss with you in the next section of today鈥檚 blog post.

How does the law favor marrying and then purchasing a home?

As mentioned earlier, Texas law offers protections for individuals buying homes while married. The primary protection involves community property when purchasing a home with your spouse. Community property laws, which apply in divorces, assume that all property owned at the time of the divorce is jointly owned. As a result, the law requires dividing community property after divorce proceedings. This prevents your spouse from taking the house or its equity in a divorce without your agreement. Additionally, it recognizes and accounts for the money you contributed to the mortgage or home improvements.

Managing the Family Home in Texas

In a typical divorce, when a couple owns a community property home, a couple of different scenarios typically play out. The first scenario is that the family home will be sold due to the divorce, and the equity in the home will be split between the two parties. If you purchased a home during your marriage, it will be classified as community property.聽It doesn鈥檛 matter if the house only bears your name or that your income went towards paying the mortgage. In Texas, this house is just as much your spouse鈥檚 as yours despite their lack of input regarding financial resources.

As you can see, this is a setup that benefits a spouse who has less financial wherewithal in less in the way of financial resources. Your spouse鈥檚 financial contribution to the family doesn鈥檛 matter; what matters is that you were married at the time the home was purchased.聽At that point, they have every right to take an ownership interest in that home as you do. Given this scenario, you would not be able to strong-arm your spouse into getting more economic benefit out of the house in the divorce.

Home Retention Options in Divorce

If one spouse decides to remain in the house after the divorce and the other agrees, the staying spouse can refinance the mortgage in their name. They can then pay half of the home鈥檚 equity to the departing spouse. Alternatively, if they don鈥檛 withdraw equity, they can distribute a similar amount of money from other parts of the estate to maintain fairness.

From this discussion, it鈥檚 evident that community property laws protect spouses鈥 interests during divorce. Many potential clients inquire whether their spouse can dominate the property division phase to the extent of leaving them with nothing. With confidence, I can assure these individuals that due to our state鈥檚 community property laws, the likelihood of this is very low.

What can happen if you purchase a house with someone you are not married to?

Buying a house with someone you were married to carries risks; there鈥檚 no other way to put it. I鈥檓 not passing moral judgment if you have bought a house with someone you are not married to. I do not necessarily even have in mind a scenario where you and your boyfriend or girlfriend have purchased a house together. I could talk to you about buying the house with a relative or even with a roommate. The simple truth is that buying a home with anyone other than your spouse can be risky for you from a legal standpoint.

No matter how serious your relationship is with your partner, a close dating relationship does not hold the same legal status as marriage. While it may feel like you are married and you may even behave as such, in the eyes of the law, you will be regarded as two unmarried individuals who have jointly purchased a home. In the event that one of you wishes to move out or if any other situation arises, the law will not offer the same protections as it would under community property for married couples.

Consider a scenario where you and your significant other purchase a home together in Houston. He lives in the house for about a year when his partner suddenly passes away without a will. According to the laws of intestate succession, your partner鈥檚 shares of the house go to her mother. Consequently, you find yourself co-owning the home with your girlfriend鈥檚 mother. You must address this issue when she wishes to sell the house and claim her share of the equity. If you disagree with selling the house and wish to remain in it, you will likely need to buy out her equity stake and navigate other legal processes involved.

Homeownership and Breakups

Let鈥檚 consider a scenario where you own a home and have a mortgage solely in your name. Now, suppose you and your longtime boyfriend have resided in the house for over a decade. If you break up after ten years, another question arises. You鈥檒l wonder whether you would owe your ex-partner additional money due to their contributions to the mortgage payments, home improvements, and other expenses.

If you were married during this period, the ownership stake in the property would have been clear to each person. You would have had to divide the home and split the equity, or your spouse would have received reimbursement for their contributions to community property. Conversely, if you and your partner were never married, they would have had to file a civil suit to receive compensation for their contributions towards the mortgage and home improvements.聽This process can become complex, moving the case from family court to a general civil court setting.

Questions about the material contained in today鈥檚 blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today鈥檚 blog posts</a>; please聽do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and about the services that our law office provides to our clients.

Book an appointment with Law Office of Bryan Fagan using SetMore
  1. How to protect your home in a Texas divorce
  2. Common Estate Planning Mistakes: Titling your home in your adult child鈥檚 name
  3. What Happens to the Marital Home in Divorce?
  4. Navigating the Complexities: Determining Ownership of the Family Home in a Texas Divorce
  5. Does refinancing a home change ownership of it in relation to a Texas divorce?
  6. Own a home and going through a Texas divorce? Learn your options in this blog post
  7. Selling Your Home in a Divorce: Tips to Stay Calm and Move On
  8. The short sale of a home: How does it work and how can it impact your divorce
  9. The Dirty Trick of Getting Your Spouse to Leave the Marital Home
  10. Your home in a Texas Divorce: How to decide whether to sell or stay

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