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What happens to a house you owned prior to marriage in a divorce?

When it comes time to get a divorce, there's a big difference between community property and separate property. Community property is subject to division and has to be split with your spouse. Separate property does not. Why, then, is your spouse trying to claim that the house you owned prior to your marriage isn't really your separate property?

Well, because that house may not actually be entirely your separate property any longer -- even if it is still just in your name. Here's why your spouse may be laying a claim:

  • You used community funds to pay the mortgage and the utilities. That includes money that came from your paycheck alone, since everything you earned during the marriage was considered community property.
  • You did repairs on the home or remodeled part of it during the marriage using money that came out of the "marital pot." That means that your spouse is now unable to access that money any other way.
  • The value of the home, measured by the amount of equity you have in it, has increased. Over the course of your marriage, those repairs or renovations that you made enhanced the value of your property, and your spouse may lay claim to this.

If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that's valid, of course, you may have a much clearer title to the home. If not, it may take some careful review of your financial records to determine how much of the home's equity can be considered your separate property and how much has to be split with your spouse.

The division of property in a Texas divorce is much more complex than the term "community property" makes it sound. Make sure that you have experienced guidance moving forward.

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