Legal aspects of missing husband
Michael and Lisa were married in 1980 and immediately moved into a house that was titled in Michael’s name only. In 1982, Lisa gave birth to a son and, two years later, she gave birth to another son. The family of four continued to live in the same house that was in Michael’s name and everything seemed to be fine. One Sunday evening, in February, 1988, Michael told Lisa that he was going to drive up to the store to buy a few cigars. He never returned from the store. Lisa called the police, and an investigation ensued. The police did find Michael in an adjoining state a few days later. He told the police that he simply did not want to be married anymore and had left Lisa and the kids. Having committed no crime, the police let him be, and reported their findings to Lisa.
Lisa continued to live in the same house. She paid all the bills related to its upkeep, paid the annual taxes, and paid the mortgage. In 1994, she obtained an uncontested divorce from Michael without the assistance of an attorney. All she wanted was the divorce, and she made no claim for child support or alimony. In addition, no court decision was made as to what to do with the house. Lisa continued to live in the house with her kids, who eventually went away to college, got married, and started their own adult lives. Now it’s January, 2009, and Lisa has decided that the house is too much for her. Despite the difficult economy, she wants to try and sell the house and contacts a real estate agent. The real estate agent conducts a search of the land records and discovers that the house is still titled in Michael’s name. The agent tells Lisa that she (Lisa) cannot sell the house without Michael’s approval. Lisa has long lost touch with Michael and has no idea where he is or if he is even alive.
Give a brief explanation of what legal theory might be available to Lisa that would permit her to become owner of the house and to then sell it.
Your answer should not exceed 100 words.