According to recent statistics, approximately 25% of adults in the United States ages 18-34 purchased their first home with a significant other before marriage. And, with the rising cost of real estate, more and more unmarried friends or family members are buying homes together. Such arrangements may make a lot of personal and financial sense, but most of these unmarried home buyers are not aware of their rights and responsibilities should one of them decide they want out of the arrangement.
In Arizona, with respect to unmarried co-owners, the names and ownership interests written on title do not control the determination of each owner’s actual interest in the property. The laws of marital property ownership and community property do not apply to unmarried persons. So, the true interests are determined by analyses of such factors as the parties’ intentions, legal presumptions, express or implied contracts, and the parties’ respective contributions to the purchase and ownership of the property, etc. This means each situation is different and there is no one formula to apply to calculate ownership interests.
Given the uncertainty of the outcome combined with the important relationships that may be at stake, mediation is a great approach when one owner wishes to sell the property or continue to own the property without the other co-owner(s). Mediation provides flexibility to create a solution that works best for those involved without the stress, expense, and relationship-damaging effect of a court battle. Mediation is also a great choice to assist “co-owners-to-be” to work out the details of their arrangement before purchasing the property. Such pre-purchase planning will eliminate the unknown and give the parties clear guidelines to follow if bumps show up down the road.
Tags: Real Property Division