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lwpat, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 25387
Experience:  Actively practicing trial attorney
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My family has owned a home since 1979, I met my husband in

Customer Question

My family has owned a home since 1979, I met my husband in 1993, he moved in with his 4 year old son in 1994 and in 96 we were married. my mother put this house in a living will left to me and me alone in 2004. my husband is leaving us next month and says half this house is HIS, because he "chose" to upgrade it to HIS liking. is he entitled to half this house when we get divorced in a few months? we are in NYC.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  lwpat replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for using JA. I will do my best to answer your questions. DON’T FORGET, your deposit is not used to compensate me until you rate my service.

I assume that your mother left the house to you and that there is not a mortgage on the property. As such the house is your separate property and not subject to a division in a divorce. Your attorney should have advised you of this.

However, if he can show that he "upgraded" the house, that there were significant improvements paid for with marital funds, or that there was a mortgage paid for with marital funds (only after 2004), then he would have what is called an equitable interest in the house. That half interest would only be to the extent that the upgrades actually increased the total value of the home, not what was actually spent.

In other words if the house was worth 400K in 2004 and there were 50K of upgrades during the marriage and no other appreciation, then he would have an equitable interest of 25K.

Does that make sense?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The improvements were made with an 80k retroactive check i received from my social security when my spine gave out permentantly. and improvements were made without my consent. there is no mortgage. but he had me borrow 60k with a home equity loan. 25K for my daughters adoption in 1999 and 35K in 2004 credit crd consolidation. he wrote all the checks I have no idea where the 35K went.

Expert:  lwpat replied 4 years ago.
since the home equity line went to other things than the house, he would be responsible for half of what is currently owed on that debt.

As to the 80K, it depends on whether that was marital property or not and then also on how much value, if any, that the improvements added to the current value of the house. At most he would have an equitable interest of 40K but probably much less and none if the settlement is determined to be non marital and also none if the improvements did not add any actual value.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

the 80K was awarded to me for my social security disibility. 2 weeks after my daughter was born , my spine collapsed, I filed for visibility and it took 4 years, so I received that 80K, he renovated my kitchen with it and paid credit card bill with the rest. but he claims that the 4 years I did not work and he supported me, that the 80K was his to spend. I never spent a dime of that 80K he spent it as he saw fit.

Expert:  lwpat replied 4 years ago.
I understand but that does not change the way the court will look at the 80K. If it was marital and it increased the value of your separate property, then he could have an equitable interest in the increase in value, if any, due solely to the renovations. Normally such does not really increase the value but that is something that a real estate expert would have to determine.