What rights do I have for legal separation and keeping my house?

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What rights do I have for legal separation and keeping my house?

My husband and I got married last year. I lived in the house for 12 years before we married and 11 years before we met. He has recently started drinking to the point he cannot hold a job and sleeps most of the day. He gets verbally hostile when he drinks.

Asked on June 2, 2012 under Family Law, South Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 9 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.

Since you owned the house before marriage, it is your separate property and your husband would have no claim to it.  However, if mortgage payments on the house were made during marriage from income during marriage, the mortgage payments would be community property and your husband would have a one half interest in the amount of those mortgage payments made from income during marriage because that income is community property.  If you were making mortgage payments from separate property (income before marriage) and those mortgage payments were made during marriage but are traceable to separate property income, your husband has no claim.  If improvements were made to the house during marriage and those improvements were made from income during marriage, the enhanced value of the home from those improvements would be community property and your husband would have a claim for half the value of those improvements.  Again, if those improvements were made during marriage, but were made with separate property income (your income before marriage), your husband would have no claim to the enhanced value of the home from those improvements.

If you and your husband separate with no intent to reunite, your income after separation is your separate property.  Property you acquire after separation with no intent to reunite is your separate property.  Your husband has no claim to your separate property.

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


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