Property Before Marriage

by Laura from Boca Raton, Florida, Palm Beach County

I bought my house 13 years ago. I have now been married for 3 years and want a divorce.

What is my spouse entitled to?

Answer to Florida Divorce Question

Dear Laura,

In general, a house which you purchased 10 years prior to your marriage would not be considered marital property.

However, if your husband spent money on the house in upkeep or improvements he may be able to claim some share of ownership or equity.

And if joint funds were spent on upkeep or improvements on the home, that money he spent also may allow him to claim a share of ownership or equity.

Florida provides for equitable distribution of assets during a divorce. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, it means fair.

So, if it was your house for ten years prior to ever meeting him and he never paid a dime towards it, the answer is clear. It is your house and your asset after the divorce. However, it seldom happens in the real world that married couples completely separate all of their debts and assets.

The simplest thing may be to negotiate some sort of trade off with him, if, in fact, he contributed substantially to "your" house. For example, you won't ask for half of his 401K if he leaves your house alone. Just a thought.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Comments for Property Before Marriage

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My Pre-Nupt Agreement
by: Leah from Pompano Beach, Florida

I am a U.S. citizen in Florida and married my husband last year. He had me sign a prenuptial agreement 3 days prior to our marriage and we never had an attorney review it nor did he disclose his financials to me. He received his green card December 2011 and finally started earning large commissions in the six figures.

He also recently purchased 3 small businesses in his name. All of his bank accounts are here in the U.S. and are in his name. We live in my home and I pay all of the household bills. Am I entitled to any of these monies or businesses if we get divorced? Also would our prenuptial agreement be considered invalid? I also petitioned for his 3 children for their greencards.

--The answer to all of your questions is maybe. My understanding of typical pre-nupts, is that anything acquired or owned before the marriage is kept separate from the marriage, but anything acquired during the marriage is mutual. You need to consult a Florida divorce attorney. --Staff

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