In the recent case of DICKINSON v. DICKINSON, NO. 2018-CA-00827-COA (Decided March 30, 2020) the chancery court found that the fifty-nine acres from the wife’s grandmother which the wife had allowed to be jointly titled in her and her husband’s name was the wife’s separate, non-marital property. The Court focused on the facts that the property came from her grandmother debt free, the parties never improved the property or put any money into the property and never used the property.
The Court of Appeals affirmed, citing an array of similar cases:
McDonald v. McDonald, 115 So. 3d 881, 885-86 (Miss. Ct. App. 2013), finding property purchased with funds inherited by a husband was the husband’s separate property despite the property being jointly titled in both the husband and the wife);
Marter v. Marter, 95 So. 3d 733,737-38 (Miss. Ct. App. 2012) (finding that property inherited by a wife prior to marriage and later jointly titled remained the wife’s separate property);
Delk v. Delk, 41 So. 3d 738, 741-42 (Miss. Ct. App. 2010) (recognizing that condominium property separately owned by a wife prior to marriage but later jointly titled did not become marital property until the couple began using the property as their marital home, and thus the husband was not entitled to a full half of the proceeds from the condominium).
A cautionary note is that when the wife titled the property in her husband’s name during the marriage, a presumption arose that it was marital, and wife then bore the burden of proving it was not. The lesson: don’t title separate property in joint names if you don’t want to risk losing it to the marriage.