Q – My wife and I have been married for 15 years. We have two kids, aged 12 and 7. She hasn’t worked since our oldest child was born; she stayed home and took care of the kids and the house. I work as an electrician; I earn pretty well, but I have to work overtime about four or five times a month. My wife and I want to separate. It’s my money that’s gone to pay the mortgage, buy groceries and pay for whatever we’ve needed, because she doesn’t earn. Do I still have to share the value of our property equally with her?
A – Yes, you do. The law sees what the family does as a joint venture, and views caring for children as equally important as working outside of the home. The feeling is that because your wife was at home, taking care of the children, you didn’t have to take time away from work to care for them, nor did you have to hire someone (like a babysitter) to watch them while you worked late. Your wife contributed to your work by taking responsibility for making it easier for you to do your job and work overtime. Therefore no matter whose money paid for the property, you are each entitled to an equal share (subject to the deductions and exclusions listed above, of course).
Q – When my husband and I got married, we lived in a house he owned before the marriage. We live somewhere else now, but he still owns the house (he rents it out to some friends). We want to get a divorce; can I claim half the house’s value since it was our matrimonial home?
A – No, you cannot make this claim. In order for a home to be the matrimonial home for equalization purposes, you have to be living in the house at the date of separation. Furthermore, because he brought it into the marriage with him, he can deduct the value of the house on the date of marriage from his net family property.