Divorce Solutions

Question #136

My husband and I have been married for seven months and are already discussing divorce. We should not be married to each other. My question is, His parents offered to help us by paying for the wedding or by getting us into a house. We opted for the house, and it was purchased. The mortgage is in his parents’ name as well as his. I was led to believe that my name would be added to the deed once we were married, but it has not been added. I changed my mind about having children(don’t want to), and that is why we are discussing the idea. I have contributed to half of the financial responsibility, but I am not on the deed. Should I stop contributing? The insurance policy, however, lists me as a primary insured. I have been contributing half of the payments to the mortgage, even though my name is not on the deed. I am wondering if I have any entitlement to the property. We have made improvements to the house during our engagement and were led to believe that the house down payment was a “wedding gift”. Who gives a gift to just the groom? Anyway, the house has increased in value. If we sell, am I entitled to the money at all, only the increased value, or to all of it or none of it?

The fact that you were not listed on the deed indicates that the property was a gift to your husband and not to you despite what you may have been told or promised. As such, you do not have an equity interest in the property. However, if you have been contributing to its upkeep and the capital improvements made to the house, you have may have a claim to be reimbursed for such money invested. For this reason, it is essential to have an experienced attorney in matrimonial matters prepare all documents before and after marriage or divorce; such matters should not be left to self-help.

The increase in the value of the home belongs to the owner, and the deed expressly states that the owner is your husband and not you. Since it was acquired by gift, as opposed to monies earned by your husband during the marriage, it is his separate property and not marital property, and thus not subject to equitable distribution.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions