Is it possible for me to keep my house if it is in my name only when we get divorced? Is it now considered a marital home and subject to distribution because we lived in it while we were married, though it is technically my house?
Your question is about retaining your house in a divorce.
As the old adage goes: everything is negotiable. Who will keep the house (and usually the payment that goes along with it) is something that can be negotiated between you and your wife.
If the house was acquired before you were married, it could be considered separate property. If the house is a pre-marital asset, and marital funds have not been used to improve it or increase its value, it is likely that the house could be your separate property. Your spouse would not have a claim to any of your separate property, except for extreme circumstances.
If the house was acquired during your marriage, it is marital property. Regardless of whose name it is in. In Michigan, any property that is acquired during a marriage is property of both parties, regardless of who actually holds title to the property. If the property is only in one spouse’s name, the other spouse has a right called dower. Dower is a one third interest in the property, upon the title holding spouse’s death. Your wife must waive her right to dower on this property.
You should work with your attorney to negotiate a settlement which allows you to keep your home. Depending on the size of the marital estate, and the amount of debt you have, you may have to give up other things in order to keep the house. Usually, the marital home is the largest asset (and largest debt) in the marital estate.
Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Michigan. Thank you for submitting your question.
Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.