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Is the Marital Home a Marital Asset If It Is in Only One Spouse’s Name?


At first glance, the difference between marital and nonmarital property seems clear cut, if not exactly intuitive.  If you and your spouse bought an asset during your marriage, it is marital property, regardless of whose income paid for it and whose name is on the title.  If you have owned an asset since before you married your spouse, it is your own nonmarital property, and you do not have to share it with your spouse if you divorce.  Of course, there are exceptions.  A prenuptial agreement can designate any asset as nonmarital if the law would ordinarily consider it marital.  Some assets can be marital or nonmarital depending on how you use them.  The default assumption is that money you receive through inheritance or a personal injury settlement is your separate property, even if you were married to your spouse when you received it.  The court has the right to consider it marital property, though, if you invested the money in your marriage, such as by depositing it in a bank account held in both spouse’s names or using it to buy a house where both spouses resided.  It matters whether an asset is marital or nonmarital, because only marital assets are subject to equitable distribution in divorce.  A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you if you and your spouse disagree about whether the house you lived in throughout your marriage is marital property.

What Happens If You Lived in Your Spouse’s House for 20 Years, but Your Name Was Never on the Title?

In a recently decided divorce case, the husband bought a riverfront house in Palm Beach County for $445,000 before he got married.  The house was titled in the names of the husband and his mother.  Two years later, the husband and wife got married, and she moved into the house.  They lived there together for more than 20 years and raised their children there.  During the marriage, the spouses both inherited money from their respective relatives and used it to make improvements to the house.  The wife also used $75,000 she received from a personal injury settlement toward home renovations.

When the couple divorced, the parties disagreed about whether the house, which was now worth $1.25 million, was marital property.  The husband argued that the house was his separate property, because he had owned it since before the marriage, and the wife’s name had never been on the title.  The wife argued that the house was marital property, because she had contributed to its appreciation in value by spending money on renovations.  The court awarded $445,000 of the value of the house to the husband and divided the rest of its value between the two spouses.

Contact Schwartz | White About Equitable Distribution of Real Estate Property

A South Florida family law attorney can help you get your fair share of the value of the property in which you and your spouse have invested during your marriage.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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