In a community property state if one spouse acquires land before marriage but the other spouse contributes financially to the improvements on it, how does that work for ownership?

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In a community property state if one spouse acquires land before marriage but the other spouse contributes financially to the improvements on it, how does that work for ownership?

Asked on May 18, 2017 under Family Law, New Mexico

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Since the house was purchased prior to your marriage and remains in your name alone, then your husband has no ownership rights in it. In other words, it remains your seperate property. If his name is on the deed, however, then he has the same onwership rights as you. Even it if remains solely in your name, he may have a claim for any contribution (either money or "sweat equity") that he made for improvements, etc. that were made to the house during your marriage and which increased its value (e.g. such as additions or renovations, etc.). Further, as a general rule, your husband will not necessarily be entitled to half of the equity gained. At this point, you should consult directly with a divorce attorney in your area.


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