Joint Tenancy and Divorce

Buying a home is always a thrilling experience for a young and in-love couple, but it may not be as exciting to divide that home up if you and your spouse drift apart and decide that you want to get a divorce. In most cases, spouses both place their names on the property title for a house, which means that it is a shared possession. In the event of a divorce, things can get complicated because one spouse will want to move the other’s name off of the title deed. In California, this is called joint tenancy and your property will be impacted if you decide to divorce.

If you and your spouse can agree on a settlement which involves who will be able to obtain the home, then you can work this out and write it into your divorce settlement. For example, a couple may determine that one spouse can keep the home but the other spouse is allowed to take the nicer car and a few of the more expensive furniture items and appliances. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreeable settlement on your own, then chances are that a California court will divide the properties 50/50 as long as they weren’t properties that you bought separately before you were married.

If the home that you live in is one that you purchased on your own before you got married, then you will probably be entitled to ownership and will not need to share with your loved one. However, if you are involved in a joint tenancy, then you will want to negotiate this with your family lawyer. A joint tenancy allows that if one spouse dies, the other will inherit the home automatically. Unfortunately, a divorce decree cancels out this provision, and makes it so that you would not receive your spouse’s share of the property. Instead, you are treated as a tenant in common and your ex-spouse has the right to bequeath his or her fortune to another person that passes away. Contact a San Fernando family attorney at Cutter & Lax today if you have questions about how a joint tenancy affects your divorce in any way.