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True or false, if you put up 50% of the down payment of a home, you're legally the owner of the home?

Matawan, NJ |

I inherited a home from my mom when she passed. I resided in it with my children until I remarried. I sold this home and used the full amount, 50% of the 240,000 new home which was 120,000. The man I married had nothing to put down. Now that I'm divorcing, is it true that this is legally my home because of my down payment? I have all papers of proof.

Unfortunately, this man gambled behind my back and lived a life I wasn't aware of. I had no children with him and was married 25 years. He is trying to make me lose my home by foreclosure. Ours is a very complicated divorce to explain . We both worked and have a business together that he is trying to show makes no money since I left him. He has been very spiteful and vindictive since I left him because of abuse and learning of his life. I've been going through the divorce for over a year. I was curious about the home because a source told me if I put more then 50% down on my inherited home that I owned with my young children at the time, but not his children prior to my marriage, the home is legally mine. But it seems so complicated. Thank you for your responses.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. The Court will have to determine that. There are a number of factors to be considered, such as whether he paid for the mortgage and other expenses. There is a strong chance that a Court will find that you are the legal owner of the house, but that depends on the totality of all the facts and circumstances. But even if you are the legal owner of the house, he could still get 1/2 of any increase in value that occurred during the marriage.

    Without meeting with you, and knowing all the facts and circumstances of your case, my opinion is not to be construed as legal advice, just general educational information.


  2. This really isnt a probate question so I have recharacterized it for you. You are correct that the inherited property is your separate property. How NJ marital rights interplay once you get married I will leave to a NJ divorce attorney to respond.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.


  3. I agree with my colleagues. As they have indicated, there are a number of factors. How was the home titled? What has happened since the house was purchased? Have you both contributed to mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, maintenance, upkeep, renovations? You have an argument that at least a certain portion of the value should be considered to be yours. A judge can handle this a number or different ways, however. You need an attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


  4. It's not that simple but, the short answer is, you may, at least, be entitled to get your money back before he share any profit. All assets in a divorce case are divided under equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is the principle that divides assets and debts. This does not mean equal distribution but, instead, is determined by the court after considering a number of factors. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to, the length of the marriage, the contributions of both parties to the acquisition of assets and debts, the ability of the parents to earn once divorced, childcare responsibilities of either parent come, any other assets available to contribute to support, and any other factor that the court considers relevant.

    Despite these issues, the equitable distribution of assets and debts in a divorce case are commonly equal because there rarely reasons to deviate.  Some common reasons to deviate are unequal contribution to the acquisition of assets and debts, a grossly disproportionate ability to earn support once divorced and other reasons deemed equitable by the court.

    Accordingly, I believe the distribution of the ownership of the house would go in your favor.

    Please mark as "Helpful" or "Best Answer" if our advice helped you. This information is based upon the limited facts you presented. My advice is based on New Jersey law and may be different if I find that the facts presented are different. Additionally, this answer does not contain any confidential information nor does it create any attorney/client relationship.


  5. It depends on a number of factors. Whose name is on the deed, who made the monthly payments, etc. Get yourself an experienced divorce lawyer.

    IMPORTANT: Mr. Murray's response is NOT legal advice and does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. You should NOT rely on this response. Mr. Murray's response was generated without conducting a full inquiry as would occur during an attorney-client consultation. It is likely that the response above may be made less accurate, or become entirely inaccurate, as you, i.e. the questioner, disclose additional facts that should only be discussed during a private attorney-client consultation. I strongly recommend that you consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state (or, in the case of immigration law, an attorney in ANY state), whereupon all relevant facts will be discussed. All responses posted by Mr. Murray on Avvo.com are intended as general information for the education of the public, and not for any specific individual. For persons located in New Jersey: To the extent that Mr. Murray's profile can be considered an advertisement in New Jersey, which is denied, be advised that NO ASPECT OF THIS ADVERTISEMENT HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY. Furthermore, the selection methodology for the SuperLawyers' "Rising Stars" awards is set forth at length at this website: http://www.superlawyers.com/about/selection_process.html.

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