Considerations for remarriage with previously husband owned, now jointly owned, house and no shared children

My husband has been divorced 3 times prior to our marriage so he’s an expert in the process. As this is my first marriage, I’m feeling a bit vulnerable. Particularly because we live in a home my husband owned for ~ 20 years prior to our marriage, and because he has a 17 year old child from a previous marriage who lives here 50% of the time. I have no children. With his prior ownership of the house, and minor child, does he have more rights than me? Is it already assumed that I’m the one who has to leave the house? What do I need to look out for or be aware of given the fact that he’s a parent and I’m not, and the fact that he owned the house previously?

  • My name is on the title.
  • The mortgage and home maintenance costs are paid out of our joint checking account, to which we both contribute 50% each month.
  • We refinanced and took out a HELOC - both of our names are on that - and we have used most of the loan to fund badly needed home improvements. 20% of that HELOC was used to pay his personal credit card debt and he is paying that back (slowly) out of his individual checking account, whereas the home improvement costs that we funded with our HELOC are being paid back out of our joint checking account.
  • Prior to our marriage, I listed the home I owned and it sold ~ 1 month after we married. The profit from that sale went into our joint savings account and was used to fund home improvements.

Our only joint property is the house, the joint savings account, the joint checking account, and some furniture. Cars and investments are in each of our names individually. Our only joint loans are the mortgage (which by the way is in his bank in his name only…he won’t give me the log in info… I’m trying to get that rectified since we are both on the title and payments come from our joint checking), the HELOC, and a credit card which we pay off monthly.

We have been married for 4 toxic years.

Thank you for any insight or resources you can offer.

Since your name has been added to the deed of the home, assuming it is now a joint deed/title to you and your husband, the home is marital property and your are entitled to one-half of its value. You can either keep the home and buy out his one-half or you can move out and he can buy out your one-half.

Since your husband added your name to the deed of the home, assuming a joint deed/title to you and your husband, then the law considers that to be a gift from your husband to the marriage, and he no longer has a separate property claim or interest in the home.

There is no presumption or assumption that because he is a parent and you are not that you must be the one to move out of the home. However, it may be in the best interests of the 17 year-old “child” to remain in the same home with his/her father rather than having to move and potentially disrupt the 17 year-old’s routine.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

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