Does a foreigner married to a US citizen have any legal rights to property purchased in the US before they were married?

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Does a foreigner married to a US citizen have any legal rights to property purchased in the US before they were married?

Can a foreigner who has obtained residency status in the US through that marriage then claim some type of ownership to a home or property in the US if a divorce is initiated?

Asked on December 4, 2012 under Family Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You are a legal resident of California, correct?  Then California's divorce laws govern in your situation.  California is a community property state. This means that a marriage or the registration of a domestic partnership makes 2 people 1 legal “community.” So property that the couple acquires during marriage/partnership is “community property.” And debt that the couple acquires during the marriage/partnership also belongs to the “community debt.” Separate property is anything you have that you owned before you were married or before you registered your domestic partnership. Inheritances and gifts to 1 spouse or domestic partner, even during the marriage or domestic partnership, are also separate property. Rents, profits, or other money you earn from your separate property is also separate property. And property you buy with separate property is also separate property. Seek help.  Good luck.


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