– from Adam N. in Muskego, WI

Question Details:

Before my mother passed away, she gave me the title to her house, which was valued at $10,000. My wife and I lived there until we decided to separate for divorce. During our last appraisal, the house was valued at $35,000. My wife helped work on the house while we lived there. I feel since the house was a gift to me, it should not be considered when the court makes a property division. Are gifts counted when dividing the property?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Thank you for your question. Gifts can be tricky in the court, especially those received in marriage, however if you hold the title to the house yourself, the court should not count the house in property division.

In the case Plachta v. Plachta 118 Wis.2d 329, 348 N.W.2d 193 (Ct. App. 1984), the court of appeals decided the trial court was correct in refusing to divide certain nonmarital property. However, the court of appeals also said if a trial court finds that a refusal to divide nonmarital property creates a hardship on the other spouse or the children, it may in its discretion divest the done spouse of such property in a fair and equitable manner.

I hope this answers your question. Give me a call, if you have any more.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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