Divorce and splitting up a home

No. Common law marriage generally requires the couple to present themselves as married. It generally doesn’t cover people just cohabiting. Furthermore, it doesn’t exist in every state.

The laws vary by jurisdiction. For a broad generalization for North America, it’s more or less split the pot of growth in net worth (not including gifts, inheritances, pre-marital assets and post-separation assets), however the devil is in the detail. For example, the OP’s state is a community property state, meaning that stuff bought during the marriage is owned by both parties, which can complicate divorces, for it’s one thing to owe half the value of an asset to your spouse upon separation, and actually be sharing ownership of the asset. Of course it wouldn’t be half as fun without lots of exceptions to complicate matters, so don’t assume that what applies in one jurisdiction applies in another jurisdiction.

elbows, your province of Ontario is not a community property jurisdiction. Married people there separately own their assets unless for a particular asset they have deliberately purchased it together. The general approach of split the net growth exclusive of gifts, inheritances, pre-marital assets and post-separation assets still applies. One of the oddities in Ontario is the matrimonial home, which in Ontario means the home that the parties lived or moved into on the day they were married and were still living in when the separated. In Ontario a matrimonial home that was owned by one or the other or both of the parties prior to marriage is not excluded from the split of net growth the way other pre-marital assets are excluded. Here are three examples to clarify what this means in your province of Ontario (not Wisconsin):

  1. If a person owned a house, got married and their spouse moved in, and they still lived there up until their separation, the person would owe half the value of the house to the spouse.

  2. If if a person owned a corporation that owned a house that the person lived in, then the person got married and their spouse moved in, and they still lived there up until separation, the person would not owe half the value of the house to the spouse, but would owe half the increase in the value of the corporation from date of marriage to date of separation.

  3. If a person owned a house, got married and their spouse moved in, then later the person sold and the couple moved to another home following which they then separated, the person would not owe half the value of either house to the spouse, but in a round about way would owe half the net increase in values of the house earned from date of marriage to date of separation.

For folks who live together in Ontario but who do not marry each other, it can get very complicated and very uncertain, for the formula used by for net property equalization of separated couples who are or were married does not apply, and instead the law of equity (fairness) applies by way of remedial constructive trust and unjust enrichment.

Either way, a domestic contract can deal with this stuff before it happens on terms agreeable to both parties, but of course most folks who are in lurv assume that they will beat the odds.

People who want to fight will fight, regardless of a prenup.

That being said, when it comes to money matters, a prenup will usually significantly limit what can be fought over and how long and hard the fight will be.

I think that what *even sven *was getting at is that it doesn’t make sense to require every couple getting married to file a “standard prenup” as a condition of getting married for a number of reasons:

  1. A “standard prenup” is not going to be any different in effect than the laws that govern property division in the absence of a prenup. It’s not going to be tailored to a specific couple’s situation. It would be more efficient to simply give a pamphlet explaining those laws to every couple applying for a marriage license.

  2. Many couples don’t have any significant separate property before the marriage. My daughter is getting married next year. They won’t have much in the way of property the day before the wedding, and there certainly won’t be enough difference between what she has and what he has to be worth getting a prenup.

  3. Plenty of couple combine their finances in a way that makes separate property become joint property (he sells his house, she sells hers and they buy a new one together). Not much point in a prenup there , unless you can decide how to divide joint property in a prenup. And I don’t think you can- I’ve seen a whole lot of information about how to keep separate property separate and even about keeping income separate until or unless it is deposited in a joint account , but I haven’t seen anything that suggests that a prenup can determine how the joint property is divided.

There are lots of people who should get prenups- but there are also lots for whom it is not necessary.

Yup. Texas has Common Law Marriage. And it’s a Community Property state. These details vary from state to state.

If the OP remarries, it sounds as though he needs a prenup. Far better than doing some sneaky dealing, which he hinted at. Besides, that probably wouldn’t work. Especially with a suitably motivated divorcing wife with a pit bull lawyer.

Exactly. Legal marriage already is a standardized civil contract between two people. I’ve already agreed to how to split up shared property with my husband-- it’s part of what we signed up for in the first place.

This whole conversation seems to be an elaborate way for the OP not to have to have the awkward “I’d like a prenup” conversation with his theoretical bride.

$200 is a lot of money if you are poor. And making people get credit reports and review their personal balance sheets still won’t create the honest conversations. “Love conquers all” and for those that have more sense, they do have the conversations around money and values before they marry.

And what are you going to do about it if you make it be done. Its like “educating women about abortion” - a patronizing government intrusion unlikely to change minds but creating barriers.

My wife and I have never owned anything jointly. When we divorce, I think the child custody issue has a lot more potential for complication than any financial matters. AFAIK, we can just file an agreement and dissolve the marriage. I think this varies A LOT by state.

I will never get married again, but I would definitely do a prenup if I brought a house or any property into a marriage. And I wouldn’t want to marry someone without her own house, too.