Family gifted property; Divorce

Family gifted property; Divorce

I would like information on how to handle a 10 acre piece of family property that was quit deeded to me by my mother. During divorce mediation my husband stated that he purchased the property with marital funds. This was not the agreement. He wants sole-ownership and the right to refinance within a year. The proceeds were used for his business.


There are a couple of issues in your question.

First, is the property immune from marital claims as a gift? Real estate deeds, if properly recorded, are a matter of public record so you can identify the deed (or have a lawyer or title company get you a copy). If there was in fact a deed of the property from your mother to you that deed (especially if it is a "gift deed") might suffice to prove it was a gift. Gifts under most state's laws are immune from matrimonial claims, but that is an issue for your divorce attorney and might depend on a range of factors, including state law.

Second, you refer to an "agreement"....what agreement? Between whom? What does it say? If there was some type of an agreement (even an oral one) that might affect everything.

Third, even if the property were gifted to you, and immune under state law, you might have tainted that protected status. If your husband provided services in caring for the property (e.g., mowing the grass, putting up and maintaining a fence, etc.) that might have converted to some degree the status of the property from immune to marital. Further, if you paid property taxes or other items for the property from a joint account account, that might further strengthen his claim.

Finally, the comments you make that he wants the entire property could only make sense in the context of an overall matrimonial settlement. For example, you got the house and stocks, he gets the property.

We've tried to give you some background, but there are a lot of facts really needed to address your situation that are missing from the question (and frankly a bit long for this Q&A), but state law will have a significant impact.

Mediation is great, but get a lawyer to advise you and address these questions. You need to consult with a divorce lawyer in your area. There might be some benefit of tying in a real estate lawyer about the property issues as well.

Good luck.

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