Title Dispute Between Exes Requires Partition Lawsuit

Question: I moved into my boyfriend’s Glendale home after he was badly injured in a motorcycle accident. For the last four years I have paid all of the mortgage payments, repairs, and utilities. During this four-year period, he promised that he would add me to the title as a joint owner of the home. You guessed it, he now has a new girlfriend, and I will be moving out of the home next week. He is basically a good guy, and he says that he will pay me back every penny that I put into the home. What about his promise to put me on title to the home which has probably doubled in value the last four years? Do I have some type of title rights to the home?

Answer: Probably. You, as a “claimant” to an ownership interest in the home, should be entitled to file a partition lawsuit in Superior Court for the sale of the home. See ARS § 12-1211. The judge will order the home to be sold by a Special Commissioner, who is usually a real estate broker that is appointed by the judge. After the home is sold, the Special Commissioner will deposit the cash sale proceeds, minus commissions, repairs, and other sale expenses, with the Superior Court. If you and your ex-boyfriend cannot agree on the distribution amounts to each of you, a trial will be scheduled to determine the amount of the cash sales proceeds to be distributed to each of you.

Note: We have done dozens of partition lawsuits, and there was never a trial. After the cash sale proceeds are deposited with the Superior Court just waiting to be distributed to the former owners, there has always been a settlement, usually very quickly!

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