After planning her dream wedding for her second marriage, super model, Rachel Hunter, 39, was left at the altar just seven weeks prior to the big day. Canadian hockey player, Jarret Stoll, 27, canceled their wedding and sent an announcement by electronic mail to the 200 guests. While I ordinarily would agree that being dumped at the altar is a devastating experience, it occurred to me that there may be a more harrowing issue facing Hunter and Stoll that has not yet been reported.
Rachel and her boyfriend of two years, moved out of Hunter’s home and
reportedly purchased a 2.2 million dollar house in Hermosa Beach, California last year.
Now that the happy couple never married, what will happen to the
Hermosa Beach home?
Even if they had a properly drafted prenuptial agreement, the
consideration for a prenuptial agreement is marriage. The prenuptial
agreement would not be valid if the marriage did not take place. Hence, this agreement would not assist with the resolution of the Hermosa Beach home.
It is probably unlikely that Hunter and Stoll had a cohabitation
agreement because they were contemplating marriage. If the happy couple
did not have a cohabitation agreement documenting the purchase and
particulars of the residence, the dispute may very well depict the “War of
Roses” meets “Slapshot.” A properly drafted cohabitation agreement is a
contractual device that allows non-married couples who are living
together to plan the division of joint property upon termination of the
relationship and possibly the retention of separate personal property
acquired prior to, and after, the execution of the agreement.
When unmarried individuals take title to real property, the usual form
of ownership is called “tenancy in common.” In this scenario, each
person owns a specific percentage interest in the property. The
interests may be equal, but they do not have to be. The owner is free
to sell his or her interest to a third party, and if an owner dies, his
or her interest in the property may pass through his or her estate to
any heirs or beneficiaries.
Unmarried individuals may also take title to property as “joint
tenants.” In joint tenancy, each owner has an undivided 100 percent
interest in the property. If one owner dies, the survivor automatically
becomes the sole owner.
Assuming there is no agreement and Hunter and Stoll co-own the Hermosa Beach residence,
if they cannot agree on the use, sale or possession of their home,
they may have to resort to court to resolve the matter in what is known as
a partition action. In a partition action, the co-owner may request
that the court split the property in a fair and just manner — whatever
that might mean. Because real property might be difficult to divide and
partial interests are generally difficult to sell, a court will order
that the property be sold and proceeds from the sale distributed to the
co-owners in relation to the percentage of their interests and an
accounting of their respective contributions.
You might liken a partition action to the Aniston/Vaughn movie, “The Break Up.” However, in reality, partition actions are often even more
hostile than a divorce. Here’s to hoping that Hunter lives up to her name—a true Cougar
who will wait for the opportune moment to pounce and chew up her prey
without skipping a beat. Otherwise, Hunter will be like every other
scorned bride—-left with nothing but a broken heart, scars and
useless wedding reminders.