What Happens to house in divorce?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What Happens to house in divorce?

I bought a house in 1997. I got married in 2010. In 2017, the house was refinanced into both mine and my wife’s names. Her name was also put on the title. Now we are considering a divorce. All income for the entire marriage was by me she worked before we got married, but was a stay-at-home no income wife for the full marriage. we cannot come to an agreement about the house, what will happen? Will it stay mine since I owned it before the marriage, will it have to be sold, or will something else happen?

Asked on May 4, 2019 under Family Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The house is separate property...but as to how that ownership interest is actually divided will depend on the title documents.  So this answer is going to be somewhat limited because I do not have the actually documents before me.
If the title suggests that your wife "acquired" the house for "consideration", then 1/2 of the house will be considered community property because it was acquired during the marriage.  This means that you will keep a 1/2 interest in the house as your separate property and then you will each get a 1/4 interest in the community property portion. (Such that two 1/4's = 1/2).
If the title suggests that you gifted her a 1/2 interest and she can prove it was a gift...then the "gift" is her separate property.  This means that each of you will be awarded your 1/2 separate property interest.
Everything depends on the title.  Do not confuse the title with the tax rolls.  Just because a party is on the tax rolls does not mean they are on the title.  
If her name is not on the title (just on the tax rolls), then the house is your's 100%.  However, becasue community funds were used to pay for part of the house, you may have to reimburse the community for some of the funds used to purchase the house.  This is called a "reimbursement claim."
The court cannot generally force the sale of separate property...which is why it's so important to figure out the exact character of the property.  If your wife does have an interest, the court will usually give you time to get a home equity loan to buy her out of her interest, if any.

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