When does separate property become marital property?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

Before I got engaged, I made a down payment on a piece of property that I built my house on. During the time the house was being built, my wife and I married before closing on the home.

The home is in both of our names, but the loan is only in my name.

Does she have any rights to the money I put up as down payment on the property before we were married?


In most states, no matter how long parties have dated or lived together, marital property does not begin to accrue until the actual date of the marriage. Any property owned by either party prior to the marriage is usually considered separate property.

Absent abnormal circumstances, separate property should be awarded to the party it belonged to prior to the marriage. Marital property usually continues to accrue until the divorce is finalized.

Based on the length of your marriage, the amount of debt you have to divide, your child custody arrangements and other factors, your wife could ask the court to invade your separate property for her support.

However, this is not the norm, and she would be required to meet the court’s burden of proof for invading your assets.

Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell represents men in divorce nationwide.


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.

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One comment on “When does separate property become marital property?

    seprate property
    Married in 1998 moved into her seperate property. 2000 sold my seprate property.2003 my seprate money put into a joint account..2003 paid her mortage off and took a heloc in both our names. 2009 she signed the house soley to me….is it marital…still her property…or mine..

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