Purchasing a Home Prior to Marriage
One frequent question that arises during divorce consultations is, “Mr. Freeman, I owned a home prior to getting married, and then my girlfriend moved in, and then we married. Is that home subject to equitable distribution?” There’s no simple, straightforward answer to that question because part of that home could be subject to equitable distribution – that is, some of the value of the home may be. It depends on when the home was purchased.
If you bought the home shortly before your marriage, then the entire home will generally be considered to be subject to equitable distribution because it is presumed that you bought the home in anticipation of the marriage. If you had the home for several years prior to the marriage, then you got married, and your spouse moved in, your spouse could acquire an interest in that home depending on how long you lived in that home. This is true, particularly if the spouse contributed to the mortgage equally, helping to take care of the home. If you built on additions to the home, or if improvements were made to the home, that spouse may very well have some type of equity in the home. It will probably not be 50/50, but there will probably be some kind of equitable interest in the home. It’s a case by case determination.