Dividing a Home Purchased Prior to Marriage

What Will Happen to the House We Bought Together Before Marriage?

As a Essex County Divorce Attorney, clients often ask what will happen if two spouses purchased a home together before they were married. Today, this scenario occurs more and more often. Parties who decide to live together for a long period of time have saved their money and buy a condo – or they actually purchase a home – prior to marriage. People who are really planning their lives wisely will enter into some sort of prenuptial agreement which will incorporate the factual scenario that surrounded the purchase of this premarital property.

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 For instance, they might say, “Wife contributed $50,000 toward the down payment, and husband contributed $50,000 toward the down payment.” That clarifies that both parties came into the purchase equally and, even though they weren’t married at the time, they are now married, and they’re divorcing. Because their equal contributions are clearly spelled out, the proceeds from the sale of that property will probably be divided equally.

 We run into difficulties when there’s a disparity in the way the two parties funded the down payment for this premarital asset – or one spouse funded the premarital asset completely, perhaps by depleting a retirement account and using all of those funds for the down payment for the home). Now that they’re getting divorced, the spouse who did that wants to recoup the money, and the other spouse says, “No, no, no.” It is a fact-sensitive question, and the length of time the parties lived as man and wife in that house is tremendously important.

 A scenario in which just two years have passed from the time the marital asset was liquidated and it all went into this home, is much different than one in which the couple has been married 22 years and lived in the home. All of these fact-sensitive issues really must be discussed with your attorney in the event of a divorce if you hope to arrive at a fair treatment of this premarital asset.

Did you and your spouse purchase a home together prior to marriage and now you are divorcing?  Contact Essex County Divorce Attorney Tanya L. Freeman to learn about your rights when dividing a home purchased prior to marriage.

This educational blog was brought to you by Tanya L. Freeman, a Essex County Divorce Attorney.