In Rhode Island, one of the ways to define property ownership is called tenancy by the entirety. This is a special legal arrangement for married couples so that they can jointly own property in a way that allows them to maintain control of it if one of them passes away.
Tenancy by the entirety exists when a couple that is married buys a house together. They have special legal ownership in which they own it as a unit. This has unique properties. For example, they have the right to survivorship. When one dies, the survivor automatically gets full ownership of the property. Another important element is that if one of the two incurs a debt, and the debt collector imposes a lien against them, it cannot be applied to any property held in tenancy in the entirety, because that property is owned by both of them, not just the one who owned the debt. On the other hand, neither of them can sell or alter the property significantly without the agreement of the other due to the fact that it is jointly held.
When a couple with a tenancy in the entirety divorces, the property division can be tricky. They become what is known as tenants in common, and therefore have separate ownership of the house. A judge can order the property sold off or award it to one party or the other as part of a financial settlement of the divorce.
The tenancy by the entirety system can be confusing, but it is helpful for married couples who own a house.