When couples marry, one may have property that they purchased prior to the marriage, generally recognized as separate property. However, if marital funds are used to make payments on the mortgage or used to make improvements on the home during the marriage the non-owner spouse will have marital interest in the home to be divided in a divorce. If a home appreciates during the marriage, the non-owner spouse is likely entitled to a percentage of the increase in value.
How to Protect Separate Property in a Divorce
Many who own separate property wonder how they can protect what is ‘theirs’ in the event of a divorce. The best place to start is a pre or post nuptial agreement stating how separate property will be handled in a divorce.
It is also advisable not to mix separate property with marital property such as using marital funds to make improvements to a home or making payments on separate property. Owners of separate property might consider maintaining a separate account to make payments or pay for upkeep on separate property, allowing them to keep detailed records of expenditures.
Contact an Experienced Property Division Lawyer
When you have property or other assets you wish to protect in the event of a divorce, it is certainly a good idea to discuss your concerns with an experienced family law attorney who can advise you on the best course of action, which may include a pre or post nuptial agreement.
It is also advisable for non-owner spouses to work with a experienced marital property division attorney to ensure they are getting their fair share of the marital assets, including appreciation in a separately owned property or compensation for any payments or improvements to separate property during the marriage. Contact the Family Law Office of Ronald L. Bell for immediate assistance at 847-495-6000.