Can my husband make me pay him for work that he did onour home if we divorce?

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Can my husband make me pay him for work that he did onour home if we divorce?

I was gifted this family home prior to marring my husband. It was deeded to me as a single person. We financed it to help pay for legal fees to obtain custody of his daughter from a previous marriage. Money from my mother passing away and tax returns paid for the materials done on the 100 year old home that sits on 1 acre of land. The over 200 acres that surround it belong to my aunt.

Asked on March 28, 2011 under Family Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

MO is what is known as an "equitable distribution" state; that is all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses.  This means that property will be distributed fairly, not necessarily equally.  However, that having been said, assets acquired before marriage (or gifts/inheritances during marriage) typically remain separate property unless they become "commingled" with marital assets. If so, then such assets can be "transmuted" (i.e. turned) from separate into marital property.  The mortgaging of the home may be problematic for you.  Additionally, appreciations or additions to property may be considered marital acquisitions.  For example, your husband's "sweat equity" (i.e . physical labor) may be such an acquisition.  Even if his work did not "transmute" this property in to a marital asset and it remained your separate property, he may well be entitled to payment for his labor since it would have increased the value of the house. 

Of course, all of this depends on the specific facts of the case.  Right now you should consult directly with a divorce attorney in your area.  Go over the details of your situation (plus bring all documentation relating to it).  They can best advise you as to your rights/responsibilitiesunder applicable state law.


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