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LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 10484
Experience:  Experienced Family Law Attorney
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My husband left me January 2014. Since then I have made all

Customer Question

my husband left me January 2014. Since then I have made all of the mortgage payments by myself.he has never made any contribution. Now he wants a divorce and half of the house ... is he entitled to equity up to today, or only up to when he left the house in January 2014. I cannot afford an attorney, but he has one
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 2 years ago.
Good Day! I'll do my best to assist you. Please remember: I only provide general information and a local attorney should always be consulted.
Thank you for requesting me.
The date of separation (physical) is important in CA law because it helps determine what is community property and what is separate property.
Once the parties are physically separated the parties' respective earnings become their own separate property.
However, for determining the party's respective equity in the home residence, there are formulas that are used by the court.
There are 3 types of credits that can be at issue
Epstein credits, which are reimbursements for payments of community property (CP) debt;
Watts credit- reimbursement for exclusive use of CP
Jeffries' credit- combination of the above.
These all get their name from the cases that established the credit.
So when a party uses their separate property to pay a community debt, they can get Epstein credit for this; however, if the party is also using the property exclusively the Epstein credits can be offset by Watts (the value of the community property used- for example, the fair rental value of the property).
So the court would do an analysis as to the credits above, to determine who should be entitled to what reimbursement.
As for the residence, generally one party will buy out the other, or the house will be listed and sold to a third party. It depends on the finances of the couple involved.
If one party buys out the other, there is generally an order that the party retaining the house re-fi the house in their sole name.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Not sure if this is an answer, but in the right direction. the value of the house has increased quiet a bit since Jan 2014 when he vacated and left the house and mortgage payment, and I was hoping that the equity from Jan 2014 until now would be mine.
Expert:  LegalGems replied 2 years ago.
Typically a party is only credited for an increase in equity based on the contribution to the principal (so for example, taxes and interests are not included).
For post separation contributions, it comes down to negotiations, and to the judge's determination as to what is fair. The judge will likely determine that if the majority of principal reduction occurred during the marriage, the community should be credited for equity based on the parties' respective contributions to reduction in principal.
Since real estate issues are very complicated, the parties will often work out all other issues (spousal support, other property division, QDROs, etc) and request bifurcation so that a mini-trial can be held on the issue of the residence. Each side would submit a financial analysis that supports their position, detailing appreciation along with separate property contributions, combined with a memorandum of points and authorities dealing with cases that support that party's position (the above cases would be a starting point).
For larger assets such as a residence, it is best to have an attorney prepare the memo, because these are very detailed legal research papers.
There is a Family Law real property lien, whereby a party can retain an attorney and the attorney defers payment until a later date (ie sale of house).
Expert:  LegalGems replied 2 years ago.
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