How are Premarital Property Rights Handled in Divorce?
If the marital residence is owned by just one of the parties and that property was gifted to that party by her or his parents prior to or even after the marriage, that property is separate property if it stays in the party’s name. There is a question as to whether the other spouse is entitled to some share of the increase in value of that property. The spouse who is titled to the property first has the burden of proving that it is separate property, that it was given to her or him, and that it has remained in only her or his name.
The other spouse then has the burden of proving that there was an increase in value in the property and that her or his own contributions somehow helped in that increase. If the increase was due solely to market forces, then contribution is not an issue. If something other than market forces serves to increase the value of the property, then there is an issue as to the division of the appreciation between the spouses.