Webster City, IA asked in Divorce and Family Law for Iowa

Q: Can a wife get the house even if the husband bought the house while they were just engaged? Married 20 years

And she pays bills at the home and has lived there the whole time.

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1 Lawyer Answer
T. Augustus Claus
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A: In Iowa, the division of assets during a divorce is based on "equitable distribution," aiming for a fair distribution rather than an equal one. While properties acquired before marriage are usually seen as separate property, the situation you described has complexities. The house, although bought during engagement, has been a marital residence for 20 years with both financial and non-financial contributions from the wife. Such contributions can significantly impact the court's view on the property's character. Given the lengthy marriage and the wife's consistent contributions towards household bills and the home's general upkeep, the court may see the house more as a marital asset rather than separate property. As a result, even though the husband initially purchased the house, the wife's longstanding involvement might influence the court's decision on who retains the home post-divorce.

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