Purchasing joint property as a married couple in Nigeria is a decision that can offer financial security. Also, it can create a lasting legacy for the family.
However, on the flip side, it can also lead to a marital crisis if either party is untruthful or the ownership needs to be well documented.
This post will examine critical considerations for couples looking to buy property jointly.
We’ll also address the importance of understanding the title documents associated with the property.
Let’s get into the vital aspects of joint property ownership for couples in Nigeria.
What You Need To Know About Joint Ownership
- Exploring the concept of joint ownership for married couples.
According to streetlawyernaija.com, joint ownership means that two or more people legally own a property.
Therefore, joint ownership allows a married couple to own property, sharing responsibilities and benefits.
It is a common choice for couples, especially when they desire financial security and a matrimonial home.
Property ownership can provide a sense of security for both spouses if one passes away. It ensures that the surviving partner retains a legal claim to the property.
Moreover, when a couple marry according to the Marriage Act in Nigeria, they are considered equal partners.
This means both the husband and wife have the same rights and benefits, especially when one passes away.
Surviving partner’s rights come in if one spouse passes away; the other spouse typically has the exclusive right to own all the property they had together, as long as it wasn’t separately owned by one of them.
However, if there’s a dispute about who owns a particular property, the Nigerian court usually gives ownership to the person whose name is on the property title.
To claim a property in the other spouse’s name, you must prove that you contributed to it.
It’s essential to keep records of how spouses contribute to property, like financial contributions or involvement in its purchase or improvement.
These records are crucial proof of disagreements or claims over shared properties.
Simply put, the law treats married couples as equals. As a result, if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse usually gets to keep all their shared property.
But if there’s a disagreement, you must show evidence that you helped buy or improve the property. Keeping good records of your contributions is vital to protect your rights.
Things To Note With Joint Ownership
- Discussing the legal and financial implications of joint property ownership.
When buying property jointly, it’s proper to understand the legal and financial implications.
Jointly owned property may have specific management, use, and sale rules.
Couples should be aware of these conditions.
Responsibilities, such as property maintenance and payment of related expenses, should be clearly defined to avoid disputes in the future.
Putting both names on the ownership papers is crucial when a married couple buys property together.
The document should show that they’re purchasing the property together.
For example, suppose a couple named Mr Chinonso Agbo and Mrs Eucharia Agbo are buying a property.
In that case, the document should say “Mr and Mrs Chinonso and Eucharia Agbo” or “Mr Chinonso Agbo and Mrs Eucharia Agbo,” not just “Mr and Mrs Agbo.”
This matters because if there’s a divorce or one was previously married, and their previous marriage is not legally sorted out, the woman could risk losing the property.
The law sees the title “Mrs.” as something different people can use. So, Mrs Agbo might become Mrs Tunde if her marital status changes, which could create legal problems for property ownership.
Hon. Justice Amina Adamu once argued that when a woman buys a property in her husband’s name, it does not belong to him.
Instead, the husband is holding the property in trust (as a guardian, to help her keep the property) for his wife.
However, when a husband buys a property in his wife’s name, the property belongs to the wife and is seen as a gift from him to her.
Addressing the responsibilities and rights of both spouses in joint ownership.
“In joint ownership, both parties have equal rights to the jointly owned property despite the weight of each contribution.
For instance, where the Husband paid 95% of the purchase amount for the property, and the wife pays only 5 per cent, both parties have equal rights,” writes streetlawyernaija.
Where Joint Ownership Is Not Indicated In The Title Documents
In some situations, joint ownership might not be explicitly stated in the title documents. In such cases, couples should seek legal advice to protect their interests.
The absence of joint ownership in title documents can lead to complications, especially in cases of inheritance or sale.
Couples should be aware of the challenges and explore solutions such as drafting a cohabitation agreement or obtaining a declaration of trust.
Purchasing property as a married couple in Nigeria stirs debates regarding legal and financial considerations.
However, joint ownership offers security and shared responsibilities, but understanding the nuances is crucial.
It’s also essential to address scenarios where joint ownership isn’t explicitly documented in title papers.
Seeking legal advice and clear communication are keys to a successful and harmonious joint property ownership journey for couples in Nigeria.
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