I purchased a home 10 years before I got married, about seven years before I even met my wife. When I got married, I was already living in my home for six years and now after four years of marriage I’m scared I’m going to lose my home if I get divorced. My wife has never paid the mortgage, taxes or any of utilities. She has her own job and keeps her own money, but her divorce attorney is saying that the house is half her. I’m scared that I’m going to lose my home to this gold digger. Does she have any rights to a home that I bought before I even met her? Can she take my house in divorce, even though she’d isn’t on the deed and never contributed to the house? How can she take a house that I owned before I ever met her?
All couples getting divorced in Massachusetts must deal with splitting up their assets and their debts, within the Family Court system. Under the laws of Massachusetts the division of assets (property) is to be equitable, this term is defined as being “fair”, although this does not mean it needs to be equal. Many couples are able to resolve this with their attorneys and reach a settlement agreement, instead of leaving it up to the judge to decide.
Technically under Massachusetts state law only assets that the couple have acquired during the time of the marriage is considered “marital property”, the Massachusetts law enables a judge to divide all of a couple of properties, regardless of who owned it and when. In other words, in Massachusetts, the law allows the judge to divide property that one spouse owned before they ever met the other spouse or before marriage and the property that both of them acquired during marriage. Many times the court will allow the spouse that own property prior to marriage to keep that property, and in many situations judges have been known to give a spouse the home that the couple lived in, even though the other spouse owned the home prior to the marriage, even prior to meeting the person, and even if the entire home was paid off before they got married. This is a fact that many people do not realize in Massachusetts and figure they do not need an experienced divorce attorney to handle their matter, because they own their property before they got married to their spouse. Nothing could be further from the truth, in many situations especially in those where one partner of the marriage who owned significantly more and earn significantly more money, marry someone who does not have a job to support themselves or has a child and never works after that point. In those situations, with a good divorce attorney, that person can get your house even though you owned it before you met them or married them.
This is why getting the most experienced and best divorce lawyer on your side is critical, regardless of what side of the coin you’re on. Our law firm has both defeated these attempts to gain property that was owned prior to the marriage and we have also obtained homes for clients that their spouse owned before they get married. Divorce is serious business and you need the most experienced divorce attorney you can find.
There is one way to avoid this situation, if you’re considering marriage. Seek the advice of a good family law attorney or probate attorney and have them draft up a prenuptial agreement. Never attempt to use online forms or some cheap attorney to do this, as were talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions. This is certainly not an area of law that you want to bargain shop for the best price. Many prenuptial agreements have been held invalid within the state of Massachusetts.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723
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