I Owned a House Before my Marriage

Owned house before marriage
My house: Marital or Non-Marital?

Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

I owned a house before my marriage.  I’m getting a divorce.  Does my spouse have a claim for the house?

Generally property acquired before the marriage is non-marital.  This means it belongs to the spouse who owned it prior to the marriage.

Owned a House Before My Marriage: Two Exceptions

But it’s not always simple with a house.  If you owned your house and it was completely paid off before the marriage, it should be your non-marital property.

However, often a house isn’t entirely paid off at the start of a marriage.  Money earned during the marriage is then used to make mortgage payments on the house.  Thus, marital money commingles with the otherwise non-marital house. This creates a marital interest.

In Minnesota, a formula is used to determine the extent of that marital interest.  The formula examines: 

  1. The value of the home at marriage
  2. The value of the home at the date of valuation
  3. The mortgage left on the home at marriage
  4. The mortgage left on the home at the date of valuation

Separately, sometimes improvements are made on a house during the marriage.  If you and your spouse used marital money for this, even if the house was originally non-marital, there may now be a marital claim against at least part of the house’s value.

So, your spouse may have a marital interest in the home regardless of when it was purchased.  Your spouse may also have a marital interest regardless of whether his or her name is on the title or the mortgage.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page

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