Property owned before marriage – Premarital assets

Premarital assets  

Is a house owned before marriage marital property? 

Marital property refers to property acquired during the course of a marriage. In contrast, there is also separate property, which is any property in which only one partner bought themselves entirely, in their name, using their funds. From that definition, we can concede that a house owned before marriage will not be considered as ‘marital property’. However, it will still be included in any financial settlement if the parties separate as an initial contribution.

Does getting married change who owns your home? 

Getting married does not automatically change who owns your home. Any changes to the title deed, or the mortgage, need to be changed yourself. When changing a property title, it’s always a good idea to get professional legal advice beforehand. If you want your spouse’s name added to the mortgage, you will likely need to refinance into both of your names, something you will need your lender’s permission to do.

Does a house bought before marriage get included in a divorce or separation?

Although marriage does not change who owns your home it may still be included in a property settlement. In that case, it is essential to note that ownership isn’t relevant. No matter who owns the home, it will still form part of the property pool as an initial contribution, and your spouse could be entitled to a percentage of it in the event of separation.  

How can I protect my property before marriage? 

If you are looking for a legal option to protect your assets, you may benefit from a binding financial agreement. A prenuptial binding financial agreement is commonly known as a ‘prenup‘. A binding financial agreement is a legal document about how finances and property should be dealt with in the event of a separation. A prenup made before marriage is a great idea to document who brought what into the marriage. 

property owned before marriage premarital assets

If we don’t enter into a prenup is there any other way to protect premarital assets? 

Not really but you could attempt to protect your assets informally by keeping all your financials separate and not joint. While this won’t necessarily protect your assets, they will help identify your contributions to the property pool in the event of a property settlement occurring.

Protect premarital assets without a prenup

  1. Keep separate bank accounts and finances;  
  2. Make equal contributions to household expenses and maintenance to the home;   
  3. If buying property, consider whether you should buy jointly. If you are set on buying it in your sole name, ensure that you are using exclusive funds and not together acquired finance;  
  4. Keep a record of all financial transactions; 
  5. Ensure all assets you held before the marriage stays in your name alone. If your assets are sold, you should not roll them over into jointly owned property. If you do, then keep a record of this contribution;  
  6. Don’t place any money you held before the relationship into a jointly owned asset like paying off a joint mortgage;  
  7. Document all significant financial contributions from friends or family, such as loans or gifts; and  
  8. Don’t pay off your partner’s debts.  

Luke Cudmore

Principal Family Lawyer at Cudmore Legal Family Lawyers Brisbane Co. Luke is experienced in family law matters ranging from divorce to child custody. He is a skilled negotiator and strategist and fights zealously for his clients family law rights.