Dear Carolyn,

My wife has kicked me out of the home. Yes, I had an affair and repented several months ago. We had counseling, and I thought we were mending things up. Not so, it seems. So here is my question. My parents gave me the land. The deed to the land and house is solely in my name. The wife did not sign the note, but she did sign the deed of trust (mortgage). We built the home during the marriage. The payment is over $2000 per month, and there is no way we can afford the house without both incomes. What is the best way to handle this? Homeless

Dear Homeless,

Several interesting legal principles should be considered here. First, the land itself is your separate property. When you get an appraisal, note what the appraiser says about the value of the real estate and the value of the structures: these should be reported by the appraiser as separate line items. Then, when the home is sold, require that you be awarded the portion related to the dirt (the ground itself gifted by your parents). Next, I am suggesting that the home be sold, as it seems neither of you can afford the payment without the other – frequently the case in this economy. Finally, I will give an example of how to divide the proceeds when you sell the home. Here are the assumptions for my illustration. Let us say the home sells for $400,000 with a mortgage of $200,000, yielding $200,000 for the seller. Further, the lot is worth $50,000. You would get the first $50,000 as a return of the value your parents gave you when they gave you the lot. The remaining $150,000 of proceeds to the seller would be divided with each of you getting $75,000. Note that the answer I would give would be different if your wife’s name were on the deed. You are lucky you did not put her name on that deed.

Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427.  Please do not put identifying information in your questions.  Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation.  The column also uses hypothetical questions.  A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case.  Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”