Can You Get Half of the Value of a House in a Divorce if Your Name Is Not on the Title?

By Heather Frances J.D.

When you divorce, the court has authority to divide much of the property owned by you and your spouse. If you and your spouse can agree on property division, the court likely will adopt that agreement. However, if you can’t agree, the court must make its own division decisions. The share each spouse receives, whether or not his name is on the title, is dependent on state law and varies among states and judges.


Generally, if you purchase a home during a marriage with marital funds, the home is jointly owned by you and your spouse. As jointly owned property, it is subject to equal or equitable division in the divorce, depending on state law, regardless of whether it is titled only in one spouse’s name. Community property states – Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin -- typically divide assets equally between spouses. The other 41 states are equitable distribution states and their laws generally divide assets equitably between spouses.

Separate Property

In most states, property acquired before your marriage or by inheritance or gift remains the separate property of the spouse who acquired that property. This separate property is not typically divisible by a court in a divorce. If your spouse inherits a home during your marriage, keeps the home titled only in his name, maintains the home, and pays the taxes and insurance with his separate funds, some states will consider the home to be his separate property and not subject to division at the time of divorce. However, some states, like Connecticut, do not recognize separate property, so all property is subject to division at the time of the divorce regardless of how the property was acquired. However, the proportion given to each spouse is up to the court.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Mixing Property

If you live in a state that recognizes separate property and you own a home prior to your marriage or acquire it during your marriage by inheritance or gift, your house remains separate property. However, if separate property is mixed with marital property or if marital assets are used to increase the value of the separate property, the separate property or its increased value can be considered marital property. For example, if you use marital funds to maintain or improve the inherited home, any increase in the home’s value, or equity, may be considered marital property and subject to the court’s division.

Court Discretion

If you and your spouse can reach an agreement about how your property should be divided, the court can simply adopt your agreement. If you cannot agree, the court typically uses its discretion when dividing the equity in your home and the home itself, balancing the home’s value against other marital assets. State law usually lists factors for the court to consider when dividing property, and those factors may permit the court to consider each party’s separate assets when dividing marital assets, including the home.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Ohio Divorce Law on a House in a Spouse's Name


Related articles

Divorce in Washington State With Separate Assets

Divorcing couples in Washington should be aware that the state has a somewhat unusual divorce law, in that courts are allowed to divide separate as well as community assets between spouses under certain circumstances. Washington courts distinguish between community property, acquired during the marriage, and separate property, acquired before the marriage, and will mainly divide community property between the spouses. However, what was once separate property may end up in the hands of the other spouse depending on the facts of the case.

How to Turn a Car Title Over to a Spouse in Divorce

When a couple separates, they must separate their personal lives, their finances and their property. During marriage, spouses often borrow money in both names to purchase automobiles that they title jointly. Unless you want your soon-to-be-ex-spouse driving around indefinitely in a car with your name on it, make sure to get the title changed over as part of the divorce process.

What Happens to Assets in a Divorce in Wisconsin?

When a couple divorces, their marital assets must be divided between them. Wisconsin is one of nine community property states, including Arizona and California. Under Wisconsin law, this means that generally spouses will be entitled to receive half of the marital assets when they divorce. State law also sets forth exceptions for separate property and circumstances in which equal division is inappropriate.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce Laws on Mortgage Loans in Ohio

When you end your marriage in Ohio, you and your spouse have the option of reaching your own agreement about how to ...

Home Ownership & Divorce in Illinois

Owning your own home is still the American dream, but a home can be tough to split between divorcing spouses. For ...

Can a Spouse Get Half of the House in a Divorce in Connecticut?

Your home may be the most valuable asset you and your spouse own, so it will be important for you to claim your ...

Divorce When Your Spouse Owns Everything

If you live in a community property state, the law makes it almost impossible for your spouse to own everything. Half ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED