Divorce settlements are complicated. Splitting up a shared life is never easy, but it has a significant impact on your financial future, so it’s important to do right. But what about sharing assets after everything is signed and official?
Every month, our founding partner, Rick Jones, stops by the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show to answer listener questions about divorce and family law. One recent caller finds herself in an interesting predicament. She received a shared home in the divorce settlement. Thanks to the sweat equity the couple put into the house, she’ll be able to sell it for a profit.
At one point, she promised her ex a share of this because of his contributions. She made this decision on her own, after the fact, and it has nothing to do with the divorce agreement. But after she made this offer, however, her ex continued to treat her poorly and she changed her mind. Is she obligated to give him anything?
Listen to the question and answer below:
Sam: “I own my house and I’m divorced. I refinanced my house at one point. Oh, in the divorce, I got the house. At one point, I kinda felt sorry for my ex-husband and emailed, ‘Hey, when I sell, I’ll give you some of the equity out of the house, because I’m going to get a lot of equity.’ So I sent him an email that said that, but now I’ve changed my mind because he’s so awful to me. Am I legally bound based on that email to give him money?”
Rick: “From a family law perspective, the answer is no, but bear with me on this. Obviously, in your divorce papers it doesn’t say anything about any equity coming his way, right? You’ve been granted the house.”
Rick: “Okay. So what you really have now is called a ‘contract analysis’. Which is, did you enter a contract after your divorce…to be able to give him some money? In other words, do you owe him that based on a written contract, meaning your email? Without getting too much into it, as I’m NOT a contract attorney, what you really have is consideration. Did you get something in exchange for that promise or was it purely a gratuity? So that’s going to be the issue. Unfortunately, it does give him an angle to argue, but you’ve got angles as well.”
Danny: “And by the way, you remember I said ‘You think it’s going to be friendly’ and I say ‘get a lawyer anyway,’ this lady wanted to give her ex-husband money, and he couldn’t get through the day without being a jerk to her.”
If you have questions about your divorce, contact Goldberg Jones at our San Diego office.
Related Reading: Moore Marsden, Shared Homes, and Divorce