Will my home be considered a mutual asset after marriage? 28 Answers as of November 28, 2011

If I own a home before marriage, after marriage will the home be considered a mutual asset? I also own a car in my name. I'm trying to protect myself.

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Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
So long as you keep your home in your own name, it will remain your sole and separate property. However, your spouse will be entitled to a certain community interest in your home by virtue of any mortgage payments or improvements funded by commun9ity property (i.e., by your and/or your spouse's income). Also, if you refinance the house during the marriage, the refinance proceeds will likely be characterized as community property, pursuant to a case known as "Marriage of Grinius".
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/28/2011
Bruning & Associates, PC
Bruning & Associates, PC | Kevin Bruning
Property owned by one spouse before the marriage is generally considered nonmarital property. However, nonmarital property can be transformed into marital property under certain circumstances. For example, if your new spouse makes contributions to the payment of the loan on your home or contributions to the improvement of the property, your new spouse may argue that the property has been transformed into marital property.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 11/22/2011
Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
Assets, including real estate, owned prior to marriage are considered to be separate unless the assets become co-mingled with marital money. To protect your home you will want to make any mortgage payments yourself without using money from your spouse, the same goes for any repairs or improvements to the property. You might also consider having your new spouse sign an agreement, before a notary, that he or she will not claim the home in the future.
Answer Applies to: Arkansas
Replied: 11/21/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on information you did not provide.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 11/19/2011
Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
This is a complicated issue. If you owned the home before the marriage and never put your spouse's name on the title, then it could be considered separate property but there could also be a marital component (whether the mortgage was paid down with marital funds, etc.). If you put you spouse's name on the deed after marriage then it would be considered separate property.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 11/18/2011
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    If you own the home prior to the marriage, it remains your sole and separate property unless you take steps to add your spouse's name to the deed of the property. There are other considerations such as the effect of mortgage payments made during the marriage that you should be aware of. I recommend that you speak with an attorney who can answer all of your questions including whether a prenuptial agreement would be appropriate in your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.
    Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C. | Richard A. Gray
    Your home is a pre-marital, separate asset if you owned it prior to marriage. After the marriage, the home still has a separate property component consisting of the equity you put into the house prior to marriage. If you are concerned about protecting yourself against any invasion of the assets in a possible future divorce, you should strongly consider having a prenuptial agreement drafted which spells out each party's rights and interests in any and all assets, including the house, cars, collectibles, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    If you are trying to protect yourself you should either do a prenatal agreement or not get married.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Law Office of Jane E. Ginsburg
    Law Office of Jane E. Ginsburg | Jane Ginsburg
    Whether or not there is a "community" interest in the home you purchased before you married, depends on a number of factors. These include whether or not the house is paid for, i.e. there is no mortgage. If the house is now totally paid off, when did that happen? Where did the money come from to pay off the mortgage? Were improvements made on the home after the marriage? How were the improvements paid for? If the house is not paid off, where does the money come from to make the mortgage payments. As you can see, this is very fact specific. Regarding the carif it was paid off before the marriage, normally it is separate property. If payments on the car were made during the marriage, the same questions arise as with the house.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    I don't know what a "mutual asset" is. If you owned a home before marriage, you may have some separate property interest in the home or it may be all community or all separate, depending on numerous facts. Often homes a mixture of community and separate. An experience family law attorney in Washington can help you figure that out.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
    Anything that you acquired, including your home, prior to your marriage is your separate property. She is not entitled to any of it (unless major improvements were made to the home during marriage that would increase the value of it).
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    In most cases, a house you own before marriage is not subject to equitable distribution to your spouse. There are exceptions, and I would need to talk to you and get more information to give you a definite answer.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    As long as the title to property you owned at the time of marriage remains in your name alone, it will be considered your separate property in any later divorce action. However, appreciation in the value of separate property during the marriage will be considered marital property.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    The marital estate is that acquired by the parties from the time of the wedding to the time of the filing of the complaint for divorce, which is not received as a gift or inheritance.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    Under Washington state law, whether the home continues to be separate property or has a community property interest after marriage depends on the specific facts, including: whether improvements were made after marriage increasing its value, whether it was re-financed, whether title was placed in the names of both spouses. Regarding the car, if it was acquired during the marriage, it is community in character regardless of who is on title. Consult with an attorney who will be able to elicit the specific information necessary to advise you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    The easiest way to prevent it is to get a prenuptial agreement done. This will save you thousands of dollars in legal fees and tons of hassle later.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    David A. Browde, P.C.
    David A. Browde, P.C. | David Browde
    Property owned prior to the marriage is separate property unless you do something to change it.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    No, your home should remain your sole property unless during the course of your marriage, your spouse contributes her capital and/or labor to its maintenance and/or increase in value. (And, no, maintenance in this context does not mean sweeping the front porch nor cleaning the bathroom.) The car should continue as your sole property under the same rationale and not be classified as marital property.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    The best way to protect yourself is with a prenuptial agreement and do not add her name to the deed or mortgage or title of the vehicle. If the house is paid for, it will be a non-marital asset. If it's not paid for, it may become partially marital with her having some interest in it, even if you don't add her name to the deed or mortgage.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Law Offices of Lawrence J. Marraffino, P.A.
    Law Offices of Lawrence J. Marraffino, P.A. | Lawrence J. Marraffino
    If you owned the home in your name only before you got married, if you live in Florida, most likely it will NOT be a marital asset to be divided in a divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Maclean Chung Law Firm
    Maclean Chung Law Firm | G. Thomas MacLean Jr.
    In California, property owned before marriage usually would be considered separate property that would not be divided between the parties. However, in the case of a home, if you were using community funds to pay for the mortgage on the home during the marriage, then there will be a community interest, meaning your spouse would still be entitled to a share of the equity. As far as property in only one spouse's name, it still can considered community property, or a "mutual asset" as you put it, if it was acquired during the marriage.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
    The home will continue to be your separate property, but the marital community could gain an interest in the property if the mortgage and related expenses are paid with community property income during your marriage. Same applies for any vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    More facts are needed to properly answer your question. However, as a general rule, if you paid down the principal of the mortgage during marriage with your income (which is a community asset) or paid for improvements to the home with your income during marriage, then the community has acquired an interest in the home. Meaning, there is a separate and community interest that needs to be determined. Upon divorce, when the house is divided, you will get all the separate value of any net equity, and half the community portion of any such equity. As for your car, if you bought it during marriage with community income, then it is a joint asset, regardless of whether only your name is on the title. It would be best to consult with a local family law lawyer to learn your rights and develop a plan of action to manage your divorce.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Absent a prenuptial agreement, all assets are deemed marital in a divorce unless proven otherwise. Categories of non-marital assets include those that the person had before marriage. if you owned a house before marriage, but continued to pay on the mortgage during the marriage, a portion of the value of the home would be considered marital and a portion would be considered non-marital.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/18/2011
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO | Ryan J. Lewis
    If you owned the home prior to the marriage, it will not be considered a marital asset.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 11/18/2011
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