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Dividing the Family Home When Only One Spouse is On the Deed

For most Americans, home ownership is their biggest investment. When you divorce, deciding what to do with the family home can be tough—especially if only one spouse’s name is on the title.

Many people believe that if their spouse’s name isn’t on the deed or title, they’re not entitled to a share of that asset, where it’s a home, vehicle or other piece of property. That’s not always true.

Marital vs. non-marital property

Minnesota considers any asset acquired by either spouse during the marriage “marital property.” All marital property is subject to division by the court, whether or not both spouse’s names are on the deed.

There is an exception for non-marital property. Non-marital property includes any asset acquired by one spouse, either before marriage, as a gift or inheritance to one spouse only, acquired in exchange for non-marital property or acquired after the court has already determined and valued the couple’s marital assets. Finally, certain property can be protected through prenuptial agreement or other valid pre-marital contract.

When does title matter?

Because the distinction between marital and non-marital assets can be tricky, courts can consider the name on the title. For instance, if you owned a home before marriage and your marital funds were never used for mortgage payments, property taxes or improvements, that may suggest that you intended to preserve the house (and its increase in value) as separate property.

Because separate property determinations can be complex, it’s crucial that you work with an experienced divorce attorney and any professional advisors they recommend. For example, a forensic accountant may be able to prove whether marital funds were used to acquire and improve the family home.

The skilled divorce lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN can advocate for your divorce goals. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.


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