When it comes to real estate ownership, adding a non-married partner's name to a property deed is a significant decision that can have legal and financial implications. While it's relatively straightforward for married couples to add a spouse's name to a deed, the process becomes more complex for non-married couples in Texas. Some of the potential complications that may arise from adding a non-married partner to a deed in the Lone Star State are discussed below.
Adding a non-married partner to a deed can create the following complications:
- Ownership and Control: Adding a non-married partner to a deed can create challenges regarding ownership and control of the property. If both partners are not explicit about their ownership percentages, disputes can arise if the relationship ends. Determining each partner's contributions and rights can become complicated without a clear agreement in place.
- Unequal Financial Contributions: When non-married partners contribute unequal amounts toward the purchase or upkeep of a property, issues can emerge. If the relationship ends, there may be disagreements over how the equity and financial obligations should be divided. Establishing a written agreement that outlines each partner's financial contributions and entitlements can help prevent disputes.
- Partition Actions: In the unfortunate event that the relationship dissolves and the couple cannot agree on how to divide the property, Texas law allows for a "partition action." This legal process can be initiated by either partner and may result in the property being sold and the proceeds divided accordingly. This means a former partner can force you to sell your home at any time.
- Texas is a community property state. Property purchased during a marriage is jointly owned by both spouses, with certain exceptions outlined in the Texas Family Code. Fam. Code Ann. § 3.002 (West). Certain rights and protections come with community property. A major advantage is that, in the event of a divorce, the court has the right to determine distribution of property and that parties do not have to decide how to dispose of it themselves.
If a person wants to move forward with adding a non-married partner to a deed, there are certain protections that can be put in place. A legal agreement, such as a joint venture agreement, can create contractual duties and outline the ultimate disposition of property. An experienced real estate attorney can discuss your goals and the best way to protect you.
Adding a non-married partner to a deed in Texas involves navigating a range of legal and financial complexities. From unequal financial contributions to the absence of legal protections, non-married couples face potential complications that married couples do not typically encounter. To protect both partners' interests and minimize conflicts, it is advisable to seek legal counsel, draft a comprehensive written agreement, and consider the potential long-term implications before proceeding with adding a non-married partner to a property deed.
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