Should I divide family property after parents’ divorce?

QUESTION: The judge finalized the case. My father is to give my mother 2 years of alimony and half of his life insurance. The judge didn’t even consider the property as an asset in the case. That leaves me as the sole owner of the family property. I do not want anything to do with this as I don’t want my parents to think I am picking sides. I believe I should sell the property or split 50/50 and if my mom wants to keep the property she can get a loan so she pays the second half of it. My mother and brother still live in this property. What should I do? The property was put under my name by my mother a couple days before my father filed for divorce, without my consent.”

ANSWER: Your mother could be (and in my opinion should be) in a lot of trouble, both in the divorce action and potentially as a matter of criminal wrongdoing. Go see a good divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction, now. You could get in a lot of trouble yourself if you don’t handle this properly.

If I were you, I:

  • would NOT sell or try to sell the property. It’s likely not legally yours in the first place. It appears to me that in transferring it surreptitiously to you your mother made a fraudulent transfer;
  • would get a lawyer to help, if necessary or prudent, bring the facts to the attention of the divorce court and your father to ensure that you are not erroneously seen as somehow complicit with your mother;
  • would hope that perhaps my mother could resolve the matter out of court with my father and do right by him now.
  • Best wishes. Get help. You need it.

On a related note, for other circumstances different from yours, but that may come up in other divorce actions:

If you are the owner of the property that means you have legal claim to it and that it’s not your parents’ property now, even if it had been in the past before one or both of them apparently gave it to you.

You don’t “own” your parents’ marital property simply because, for example, it’s in your garage. That would be “possession,” but not ownership. If you have a bunch of your parents’ stuff (called “personal property”—things you can move around, things that aren’t land) because they dumped it on you and neither of them is asking for it back, you may want to simply write them each a letter (check with a good lawyer in your area to see if this is legal) saying, “Mom, Dad, I have all your ________ in my garage. I don’t want it. If you don’t come and get it in 45 days, I will either sell it or donate it to Goodwill,” that may solve your problem.

If by “the property” you mean a house or land (or a house and land), and if your father transferred title to you to prevent your mother from getting a portion of the property, then perhaps your mother doesn’t care if the house is in your name because she’s glad you have it, and that could explain why she didn’t fight over title to the property in the divorce.

If your mother did not know your father obtained a house during the marriage, then that would explain why she didn’t fight over title to the property in the divorce. If she later learns he hid assets from her, she could sue you and your father in an effort to establish and recover a marital share in the property.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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