Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Can I transfer property rights before my divorce then have it transferred back to me afterwards?

Question: I have a piece of property in North Carolina that was deeded to myself, two sisters, and two cousins from my grandmother. My wife’s name is not on the deed. 

My wife and I have been married for 27 years and she left me in July. I don’t want the property to get in the divorce proceedings so I want to transfer my rights to the property to my sister who is already on the property. 

Can I do this? Transfer property before the proceedings and then have it transferred back to me after the divorce is final?

 

Answer:

DO NOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL YOU TALK TO AN ATTORNEY.  Many states have provisions which void transactions like the one you are describing where a party gets rid of an asset prior to the divorce just to have it returned to him or her after the divorce is final.  

These types of transactions, which are often discovered after the divorce is final, can lead to the Court re-opening a divorce judgment and putting you in a much worse position than you would have been had the Court considered the property in the first place.  

In addition, depending on the laws in your state, the gifted property from your grandmother may be exempt from division in a divorce.  Each state has different laws governing the division of property in a divorce and defining what assets are marital and which are individual.  

I do not practice in your jurisdiction.  Therefore, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in Mississippi immediately.

 

Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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