Q: I have a desperate question. I have been married for 25 years and have three children. My name is not on the deed to our $600,000 home. If I divorce my husband, am I entitled to half of the assets even though the house isn’t in my name?
We live in Massachusetts. Thank you so much — I am sick over this and don’t have money for a lawyer.
A: You may be entitled to half the value of the house, but it will depend on the circumstances.
First, I’m curious to know why your name isn’t on the deed after all this time. But even if your name isn’t on the deed, if the house is a marital asset (bought after you were married), and particularly if you have contributed sweat equity, if not money, to the purchase and maintenance of the property, then you may have a good case to make for equal ownership whether or not you are listed on the property.
If your husband bought the house before you were married, it might not be deemed to be a marital asset. Then, you’d have more trouble making a case for yourself as a co-owner.
More importantly, if your marriage is in this sort of jeopardy, then you had better find a way to scrape together a few hundred dollars so that you can spend an hour or two with a good divorce attorney who can walk you through some of the landmines you’ll surely face if you do separate and help you figure out the answers to some of these questions.
July 21, 2008.