Ask A Lawyer: Can I Get The Value Of My Repair Work On Her House?


My future ex received property in the form of a cottage from her mother while we were married. I did a lot of hands-on repair to the property, and I kept the receipts from the materials.

Do I have legal grounds to obtain half of the value of the property from her?






Assuming the cottage would otherwise be her non-marital property under the laws of your state, you may have remedies to obtain some credit or reimbursement for your marital investment in the property.  The procedures and calculation of the value of the marital contribution will depend upon the laws of your state. 

If the laws of your state would treat the cottage as marital or community property, then the manner in which the cottage is allocated in the property division should be the same as other property.  An appraisal of the property may be desired to account for the improvements you have made to the cottage.

The accounting for the cottage, or your marital investment in it, will be part of the overall property and debt allocations.  A qualified family law attorney experienced in property and debt valuations and allocations can advise you as to the total financial aspects of your divorce.  You should provide your attorney with all the documentation on the acquisition of the cottage by your wife (deed, will, gift tax return, trust documents, etc.) and the records of the improvements and expenditures on the cottage (time, materials, insurance, real estate taxes, etc) for a full development of the issue surrounding the cottage.



Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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