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If my spouse purchased our home before the marriage do I get anything?

Antonio Cervantes

2 min read

Dec 12, 2023

73

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Real property ownership can become complex, especially when a home is acquired before marriage and titled separately. In situations where both spouses contribute to the property's acquisition during the marriage, the need for apportionment of separate and community interests arises. This article delves into the intricacies of apportionment, focusing on cases where a home was acquired before marriage and community contributions were made without converting separate property into community property.


Understanding Apportionment:

When a home is purchased before marriage and is titled in one spouse's name, it is considered separate property. However, if community funds are used to make mortgage payments or contribute to the home's improvement during the marriage, a legal framework for apportionment becomes necessary.

  1. Pro Tanto Interest:

In California, the community acquires a "pro tanto" interest in the home based on the ratio of principal payments made with community funds to those made with separate funds. Pro tanto essentially means "to that extent" and reflects the proportionate interest that the community gains in the property.

  1. Moore Marsden Formula:

The Moore Marsden formula is a widely accepted method for apportioning community and separate interests, especially in cases of real property appreciation during the marriage. This formula is applied when community funds contribute to the principal payments on a separately owned home.

  • Principal Payments Ratio: The formula begins by calculating the ratio of community contributions to the total principal payments on the home. This ratio reflects the community's financial stake in the property.

  • Appreciation Calculation: The appreciation of the property during the marriage is then determined. This can be a challenging aspect, as accurate valuation is essential for a fair apportionment.

  • Apportionment: The final step involves multiplying the appreciation amount by the community's interest ratio (as calculated from the principal payments). The result is the portion of appreciation attributable to the community, which is then added to the separate property value.

  1. Valuing and Dividing Appreciation:

The apportioned appreciation is a key factor in determining the community's interest in the home. It must be valued and divided accordingly, ensuring that both parties receive a fair share of the property's appreciation that occurred during the marriage.


Conclusion:

Apportioning community and separate interests in real property, particularly when a home was acquired before marriage, demands a meticulous approach. The pro tanto interest concept, coupled with the Moore Marsden formula, provides a structured methodology for determining each party's rightful share. Seeking legal advice and assistance is crucial in navigating the complexities of real property apportionment, ensuring a fair and equitable resolution in situations where community contributions have impacted separate property.


*This article does not constitute legal advice nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. It is important that you consult with an attorney about your case.

Antonio Cervantes

2 min read

Dec 12, 2023

73

0

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