Contributions to separate property in divorce

Separate PropertyIn divorce cases, an issue that often comes is when one spouse contributes to the separate property of another.  This can come up in all shapes, matters and forms.  The specific laws in each state can also vary.  Thus, it’s important to recognize there can some variance in terms of how courts handle this issue.

But take a situation where one spouse owns a house before marriage.  Assume the house stays in that individual’s name throughout the marriage and at the time of divorce.  Assume as well the other spouse (whose name isn’t on the title) contributes in some way to the house itself.

This can happen in many ways.  It might involve a new deck being put on the house.  It could be a situation where a renovation was done to the house.  It might be a new bathroom that was put in the house.  It could be a finished basement.  The possibilities are really endless.

Let’s assume as well that the spouse whose name isn’t on the title, and who didn’t own the home before the marriage, put their own money into these renovations.  Let’s assume they put $10,000, $20,000 or some other amount of their own pre-marital money into these renovations.

During divorce, are they out of luck simply because their name isn’t on the property?  Or do they get the exact amount of money back at the time of the divorce based on their contribution?

Again, the laws in each state can vary.  Judges can theoretically go in different directions when something like this takes place during a divorce.  However, one of the most common way to solve a situation like this in court is with two appraisals.  An appraisal can often be looked at for the time of the marriage.  An appraisal can then be done at the date of the divorce.

Courts can then look and see whether the contribution increased the value of the property.  If the home for example went up in value by $20,000 based on the renovations, then the spouse whose name isn’t on the house would practically speaking have a $20,000 marital interest in the house based in an equitable distribution state (and would be entitled to some portion of this amount).  On the other hand, if the renovations did not increase the value at all, then the contributing spouse is often thought to have made a bad investment and would generally not be entitled to a recoupment.

If you are going through a divorce and need representation and need an attorney, Stange Law Firm, PC can help.  You can call our Columbia, Missouri Divorce Attorneys at 1-855-805-0595.

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