Our courts have held that a spouse who makes a material contribution to the increased value of non-marital property belonging to the other spouse is entitled to a special equity interest in that increased value. For example, imagine that a wife on the date of her marriage owns a house worth $100,000 outright. The wife does not intend to make the house marital and does not do anything, such as titling the home in both names, to suggest she intends the house to be marital. Her husband takes $25,000 and remodels the kitchen, master bedroom, and bathrooms. The home is now worth $125,000. The husband would arguably be entitled to a special equity interest in the increased value, i.e. $25,000.
Essentially, the law holds a spouse will be entitled to special equity in the property of the other if the appreciation is acquired during the marriage, the spouse seeking special equity contributed to the increased value, and the contribution was material.
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