I own the property together with my son. My son lives in the property alone. Can my son’s girlfriend claim the property?

A: No the girlfriend could not claim an ownership interest without a signed writing from you or your son. NY does not recognize common-law marriage so she could not make a claim against your son’s interest in the house without him putting her on the deed or giving her a lease. If they decided to get married and you are concerned that she may acquire some rights after marriage a pre-nuptual agreement would be a prudent idea to protect his interest. Without a pre-nup should they get divorced her attorney may very well argue that she is entitled to some of the increase in value of the house from their date of marriage particularly if she is contributing to the payment of the house bills. The other issue to be concerned about even if they are not married is that the girlfriend may have rights as a tenant should he seek to get her out.

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Steven T. Decker is an experienced real estate lawyer, author and speaker.  With over 20 years of experience, Steven represents individuals and investors in the purchase of residential and commercial real property.  Steven is the author of “The Five Myths that can Ruin the Purchase of Your Home” and he is the publisher of the “New York Real Estate Law Blog”.  If you are buying or selling a home or commercial property in Staten Island, New York City or New Jersey contact Steven T. Decker, Esq. to discuss the services that he offers and how his legal representation will assist you.

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