Beware of Changing the Title to Your Home

Plaintiff purchased home in January 1998 for $83,000; $62,250 mortgage and remainder with gift from family members. Parties married August 18, 2001. December 20, 2002, plaintiff conveyed home to defendant and herself, refinanced home with new mortgage of $110,000 to cover existing mortgage, $30,000 of defendant's separate indebtedness and $20,000 of plaintiff's separate indebtedness. Plaintiff attended college from fall 2002 to spring 2004 to receive associates degree in nursing and become registered nurse in August 2004. July 2006, plaintiff commenced instant action for divorce.

Equitable distribution does not mean equal distribution; rather, it is a determination made upon considering all relevant statutory factors. Plaintiff's conveyance of home to defendant and herself changed character of home from separate to marital properly. Supreme Court properly considered appreciation in value of home during marriage after it was converted to marital property. Supreme Court providently determined that defendant's equitable share of marital residence was $15,000, 31.6% of "portion" of property's value subject to equitable distribution.

Where marital funds are used to pay separate liabilities of one party, other party may be entitled to credit. Parties used $50,000 in marital funds to pay their separate liabilities. Plaintiff entitled to $30,000 credit for payment of defendant's separate debts and defendant is entitled to $20,000 for payment of plaintiff's separate debts; i.e. $10,000 credit to plaintiff. Defendant's equitable share of $15,000 was reduced by $10,000 credit to plaintiff. Supreme Court providently exercised discretion in awarding husband 5% ($18,850) of value of plaintiff's enhanced earnings resulting from her nursing degree and professional licensed obtained during marriage.

A party who owns a home "separate property" prior to a marriage and seeks to refinance the home must be careful before putting a spouse on the deed. Banks often ask that the spouse be put on the deed. Remember that there are consequences when title is transferred to joint ownership. You can protect yourself with an agreement. For further information, call a New York Divorce Attorney.

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