If my husband purchased a house before we were married, what are my rights to it in a divorce?

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If my husband purchased a house before we were married, what are my rights to it in a divorce?

Now he wants a divorce and doesn’t want to give me anything. We have both lived in the house together but he just wants me to get out. We have been married for 4 years and although he pays the mortgage, I pay a the utilities in the home as well as contribute to the decor and improvements. Do I have to leave with nothing?

Asked on October 1, 2012 under Family Law, Virginia

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you live in a community property state, community property is property acquired during marriage.  Community property also includes income during marriage.  Each spouse has a one half interest in the community property.

Separate property is property acquired before marriage or after the marriage ends.  Separate property also includes income before marriage or after the marriage ends.  A spouse has no claim to the other spouse's separate property.

The house was purchased before marriage and is your husband's separate property.  However, since he is paying the mortgage during marriage, if the mortgage payments are being paid from income earned during marriage, those mortgage payments are community property and you would have a one half interest in the mortgage payments paid from your husband's income during marriage and a claim to the house represented by those mortgage payments.  If your husband is paying the mortgage from income earned before marriage, the mortgage payments would be his separate property and you would not have any claim based on the mortgage payments.

The value of the improvements and decor made to the house during marriage would be community property and you would have a claim for one half the value of those improvements resulting in the enhanced value of the house.

If you don't live in a community property state, other rules may be applicable.

 


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