Partitioning the Home When Not Married

Jun 19, 2020

Many couples are choosing to live together without getting married. This can be concerning to some couples if they reside in a home that is jointly owned or only owned by one of them? In a recent unpublished Chancery Division case, C.N. v. S.R., NO. 20-3-4665, (Ch. Div. Jan. 17, 2020), the court found that even if one party’s name is not on the deed to the house, he or she could still be eligible for monetary compensation from the home. Plaintiff sought such compensation by way of partitioning the parties’ residence.

There are two types of partitions: partition in kind and partition by sale. Partition in kind is known more commonly as an “Actual Partition”, which severs the individual interest of each owner. Each owner ends up controlling a divided portion of the property. Partition in kind is the most common as it tends to be the easiest option when both parties get along but simply disagree about use of the property. This allows for each party to take a piece of their own property and the records are given to the county clerk.

The other type of partition is partition by sale, which is when the property is sold and the proceeds are divided amongst the owners. This is often used when a partition in kind is difficult to perform. Following a non-marital relationship, this is a more common option as both parties can receive monetary funds from the sale of the home.

Plaintiff in C.N. v. S.R. sought to partition the home that was in defendant’s name. Although the deed and mortgage were solely in defendant’s name, plaintiff had communicated with the realtor, negotiated aspects of the purchase and provided most of the down payment. The mortgage payments were drawn from defendant’s account but plaintiff deposited cash into defendant’s bank account to cover the mortgage when defendant was out of work. The court acknowledged that usually there needs to be a promise in writing providing for financial support after termination of a non-marital relationship. The court in this case, however, found that the written requirement does not address the partition of real property in the absence of a written promise regarding unmarried co-habiting parties who purchased a residence. The court found that plaintiff had expended considerable time and money to purchase and maintain the residence.

If you or a loved one require assistance regarding a family law matter, please contact the skilled matrimonial attorneys at Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLC. Call us today at (973) 274-5200. Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLC has fully adapted to the social distancing requirements and is offering contact-less options for consultations, meetings, mediations and arbitrations.