Saint Clair, MI asked in Divorce, Real Estate Law and Family Law for Michigan

Q: Do i have any legal rights in this situation?

I've put over 400K into property to develop it and build a huge pole barn, paid numerous mortgage payments as well as put another 10k cash on principle. Since i haven't been able to get on the property and having excuses time and time again I'm leaving but would like to know if i can do anything legally. We're not married either. Everything was done under the assumption that its our property not just one persons. Weve been together for 10 years and had this property for 8 years, have three kids together as well.

2 Lawyer Answers
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
Answered
  • Fowlerville, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: In GENERAL a verbal contract is worth the paper it is written on.

In the case of real estate however, there is an actual rule called the "statute of frauds" that says 'if it isn't in writing it is not enforceable. So -- your assumption was it was 'joint' property. Is your name on the deed? Did you make a written offer to purchase the property? Is there ANYTHING in writing suggesting it was jointly owned?

If not, no, you probably don't have 'legal rights' but you may have an equitable claim if you can PROVE you put cash into the property for someone else. But that is a very 'iffy' may. Seek the counsel of a local real estate attorney and bring whatever paperwork you have. You may get lucky, but I'm not holding my breath.

Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
Answered
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Is your name on the deed? If not, and since you are not married, you may be out-of-luck. If your name is on the deed, then you would have the right to force a sale, which may likely result in the other person writing a check for you for your portion of the proceeds.

This may be harsh, but your only claim to proceeds here would be through your name being on the deed or through marriage. This will not be a situation like a divorce since Michigan law does not recognize cohabitation situations. The only real legal issue you would have is the custody and support of the children, but that would not affect the property.

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