More common now than ever before, lovebirds will buy a house together before saying “I do” in the hopes they will grow old together in the home that they now own jointly. In many cases, one person ends up contributing more financially to the purchase of the home. For example, one fiancé might pay the entire down payment, or make considerable home improvements through time and money.

Couples that do so and own the house as tenants-in-common may run into legal trouble if they break up before getting married. Although the couple technically owns the house and share a 50/50 interest in the property, the question becomes – is the person who made the down payment or invested a larger portion of money towards the renovation entitled to a larger percentage of interest in the home than the one who contributed less?

If two people buy a house together and are named tenants-in-common, the court may award compensatory adjustment to the party who has financially contributed more to the home during a partition. A tenant in common who has paid or assumed liens or encumbrances on the property ordinarily is entitled to a proportionate reimbursement from the other tenants. The North Carolina legislature recognizes the court’s authority to make this determination and allows the court to make orders with the best interest of the parties in mind in a partition proceeding.

If you have recently bought a house with a romantic partner before marriage or have any questions, please contact a family law attorney for more information.