Live in Wisconsin, been married 11 years, we own a home which my husband purchased prior to us being married (with a small downpayment). As soon as we were married, we refinanced and had my name added to the mortgage. We have since refinanced several times (my name always on the mortgage). However, my name was never added to the deed of the home. What will my legal claim be in regards to the home if we divorce...will I still be able to have half the value?
Wisconsin is a marital property state. This means that any property acquired during the marriage is part of the marital estate which must be divided equally in the event of a divorce. For purposes of the family court, it does not matter how the title is held. Although your husband may have acquired the home prior to the marriage, for eleven years you have been paying the mortgage with marital assets (i.e. income earned during the course of the marriage). Thus, what started out as individual property has been turned into marital property. If your husband is able to establish the amount of equity he had on the day of marriage, he may be able to have that awarded to him as individual property.
This answer is for informational purposes only. By answering this question, no attorney/client relationship is created. Although the legal information is accurate, it may not be appropriate for your situation. The best way to handle any legal problem is to seek the advice of an attorney.
I agree with counsel. The property has been commingled with marital assets. You will likely need a lawyer and possibly a valuation expert to help apportion the separate values to each and to determine what you are entitled to.
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Yes, half the value of the house is yours, regardless of how it is titled. Be sure and hire a family law attorney to help you with your divorce. I offer free consultations at 414-224-8411. Best of luck!
IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF GUERRERO v. Guerrero, Wis: Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2012 suggests that the effect of refinance in Wisconsin is for the property to transmute (from separate to marital property in nature, subject to division). Certainly, it's not completely clear that the character of the property changed here, but one can certainly argue that it did.