Fiancee leaves him, but not his title

Mailbag

August 15, 1999

Dear Mr. Azrael:

When I purchased my house in 1997, I was engaged to be married. When my fiancee and I went to the settlement, I agreed to have her name put on the title even though she did not contribute to the down payment and settlement fees.

We moved into the house and she stayed for one month. We broke up. I am still living in the home paying the mortgage. She does not want me in the house and has threatened several times to push for the sale of the house.

We have talked in regards to signing her name off the title. We both agreed that I would give her the dollar amount of what she put in the house (household items). I had a form drawn up, stating that she would agree to sign her name off the property and the amount of money we had agreed upon.

I sent her the form four months ago. At first, she agreed to sign and now the delays. She says she does not want to sign her rights away. She is not living in the home and is not contributing to the household expenses.

What course of action can I pursue to have the property retitled? Can she force the sale of the property, while I am paying the mortgage? What rights does she have?

Tony Owens, Catonsville

Dear Mr. Owens:

When you put your former fiancee's name on the title, you made a gift to her. The gift is irrevocable. You cannot retitle the property without her consent.

As a joint owner, your ex-girlfriend is legally responsible to contribute her share of the mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and necessary repairs. Since you live in the home, she can claim credit for one-half of the fair rental value for the property.

You have a right to sell the property through a court-ordered "partition" sale. The net proceeds, after payment of the existing mortgage and expense of sale, would be divided equally, subject to the adjustment for the mortgage payments you have made.

I suspect that if you hire a lawyer and press the issue, your former fiancee may relent and agree voluntarily to transfer her interest to you for a reasonable sum.

Love is blind. From now on, get legal advice and handle this important matter with your eyes wide open.

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