Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jan 14, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

If you are getting a divorce and you moved into your spouse’s house after you were married, then the house would not normally be part of the property distribution because it was separate property, since it was acquired before the marriage took place. You won’t be allowed to keep the house in most cases, nor will you necessarily get a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the house if it is sold.

The general rule is, anything that was owned before marriage by either party is separate property and not subject to distribution in a divorce. However, there are some situations where part of the value of the home may belong to the non-owning spouse.

We know divorce law can be tricky, especially in circumstances like this. Keep reading as we dig deeper into this scenario, and as we also reveal your options.

When do you have a claim?

Issues arise when the property value of the separate property increases over the course of the marriage. In this situation, it is important to determine the reason or reasons that the property value increased.

If improvements were made to the home during the marriage, this may increase the value. This would be classified as an active increase. A passive increase, on the other hand, is one that is caused by market forces or inflation.

An active increase is made by one or both parties working or managing their own or their spouses separate property and improving it. This increase may be subject to marital distribution.

In cases of active increase, the spouse that owns the home would have to buy the non-owner out in order to keep the house, or the non-owner would get a portion of the proceeds if the owner decides to go ahead and sell the home.

The tricky part here is to decide how much of the home’s value increase was the result of the improvements and how much of it was inflation and the market. A real estate professional or appraiser can help determine this. After determining the value of the improvements to the home, you have to decide how much each person contributed, financially, to the improvements.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How can you get legal help?

Divorce law can be complex, especially when real estate is involved. If you are going through a divorce, you should strongly consider speaking with an attorney for assistance and advice.