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Real estate Q&A: I want to buy a house, but I'm getting a divorce. Help? [Sun Sentinel :: BC-REAL-REALESTATE-QA:FL]

Q: I am in the process of getting a divorce. I want to buy a new house but am worried about my soon-to-be-ex-wife having an interest in it. Is there something I can do to protect myself? - Alex

A: There are steps you can take that differ depending on the state of your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

If you are still getting along, you can sign an agreement regarding the property with her that is similar to a prenuptial agreement (called a postnuptial agreement) or make the arrangement part of your marital settlement agreement in the divorce case. Any concern would be regarding where the money you are using to buy the home came from. If it is from marital assets, it may be more difficult to draft an enforceable agreement. For this type of arrangement, it is essential to each have your own attorney approve the agreement.

If your ex is not willing to cooperate and you are looking to purchase the property using non-marital funds, such as money you inherited or from investments you had long before the marriage, there are still some steps you can take to protect yourself. First, make sure you can document the source of all funds you are using to purchase the property. Then make sure the title company titles the home as your "sole and separate" property. Finally, make sure to thoroughly disclose this asset as part of any financial disclosure during your divorce proceedings.

This can be a thorny issue with lots of potential hazards, so make sure to coordinate with your real estate and divorce attorneys to avoid any pitfalls.___

ABOUT THE WRITER

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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