Legal Question in Family Law in New Mexico

My husband's ex-wife signed a quitclaim deed to the house as they were finalizing their divorce. However at the time he also gave her written note saying he would give her his (now our home) when his mother passes away. Reason being because he would get his mother's house in the will and would have no need of another house. However his mother has since taken him out of the will since learning this. My question is as to whether or not my husband is now legally obligated to still relinquish our home after his mother's death?

Asked on 5/14/13, 1:35 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

George Chandler Chandler Law of Los Alamos

A rather ticklish question, and one your husband should take to an attorney with expertise in contract law, and with the divorce papers and a copy of the note to his ex in hand. I'll just outline some of the issues for you (there's no yes or no answer here).

If the agreement to pass on the house can be interpreted to be part of the Marital Settlement Agreement that was adopted by the court as part of the Divorce decree (and thereby became a court order), he may be stuck.

On the other hand if it was a pure gift for which he received nothing in return, it would become a question of contract law and the gifting provisions thereof and that could be pretty complicated.

If the quitclaim and the note were signed at the same time a court might say one takes precedence over the other, probably the quitclaim.

One way to find out is to refuse to honor the written note, on the basis you outlined, and see if the ex sues to enforce the note under contract law, then let a court decide. They could probably ask for and get a declaratory judgment.

She has six years from the date he refuses to honor the note to sue him because of the statute of limitations on a contract.

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Answered on 5/14/13, 3:17 pm

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