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Property division, not ghost, marks sale of famous home

While Halloween season has come and gone, a house known for its ghostly reputation has gone up for sale following a divorce declaration. The New Jersey home made famous in the exterior shots for the 1970s hit The Amityville Horror has gone down in asking price; interested buyers could now snag the residence for less than a million dollars.

In some states, sellers are required to disclose their knowledge of deaths that occurred in their home. In most states, including Texas, real estate agents must answer truthfully if they are directly asked if significant tragic events, such as homicides, took place in the residence. These issues may surface during property division if a divorce happens alongside the sale of a home.

What is even more surprising is the reason behind the intended sale of The Amityville Horror house: divorce, not supernatural activity. Rather than have the impressive colonial haunt their property division process, the couple decided to sell the home first.

As recently as last year the home was listed for $1.45 million. Back in 2001, the couple purchased the house for less than $800,000, and they are now asking $955,000 for it.

According to their real estate agent, the property is relatively affordable and should not be considered in light of its Hollywood past. Even the divorcing owners acknowledge they made many good memories while living there, and thoroughly deny any spectral lingering.

The home's inhabitants have been married for 33 years. With a marriage spanning several decades, dividing property becomes a formidable feat. Especially if expensive properties are involved, the process can be not only time-consuming but fraught with emotional tension.

Texas law focuses on equitable distribution of community property, which is property that either the husband or the wife acquired during the marriage. There are exceptions, of course, but Texas courts presume property is community property unless specifically documented or proven otherwise.

Source: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Amityville Horror home up for sale." Jenny Pisillo, Oct. 27, 2012.

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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