Division Of Property

One of the concerns about divorce, aside from the emotional pain, is the division of property. In the process of building a life with your spouse, you have most likely acquired property. How the property is divided between you during a divorce depends on several factors.

division of property in Michigan divorce

What Happens To The House In A Michigan Divorce?

How your house is handled in a Michigan divorce is dependent on several factors. Because Michigan is an ‘equitable distribution’ state, the aim of the court is to achieve a fair, but not necessarily equal, division of marital property.

Is your home marital property?

Marital property is generally anything acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title. Separate property is that which was owned by one spouse prior to marriage or received as a gift or inheritance by one spouse alone.

Equitable Distribution & Your Home

If the house is considered marital property, it will be subject to equitable distribution. This means the court will divide the property in a way that it deems fair, considering factors such as the duration of the marriage, the needs and resources of each party, the contribution of each party to the marital estate, and the parties’ conduct during the marriage.

Other Property In Michigan Divorces

So what about your other property? You most likely have jointly held bank accounts, retirement accounts, pets, cars, and other property that you acquired in the course of your marriage.

Is all marital property subject to equitable distribution?

Yes. Any property deemed marital property would be subject to equitable distribution in a Michigan divorce. This means that you and your spouse may benefit from agreeing to a settlement in order for you to retain your favorite pet or that dream car you purchased.

What if we can’t agree on a settlement?

If you and your spouse can’t come to amicable terms, then it would be in your best interest to hire a divorce attorney that will fight for your rights to retain property, especially if it has value to you beyond monetary concerns.

Separate Property In A Michigan Divorce

It is not uncommon to enter a marriage when you already own some property. You may have inherited a valuable baseball card collection, a classic car, or even a business. For the most part, if you can prove that the property was owned prior to your marriage, then this will not be subject to distribution during your divorce.

However, there are times when separate property can become viewed as marital property in the eyes of the courts. For example, if you owned a home prior to getting married, and your spouse moves into your home, then over the course of the marriage, the house could become seen as a marital asset. This is especially true if you have children together and raise them in the house, or if you and your spouse both benefit materially from the ownership of the home.

Not long ago, a divorce case in Saginaw County made headlines when a husband had part ownership in a family business prior to marrying. In the course of the marriage, the wife became an employee of the company in an administrative role. He and his wife divorced after several years of marriage, and she claimed that she should have a share of her husband’s ownership stake, due to her claim that the stake had become marital property over the course of their marriage. She was granted a share of her husband’s ownership stake in court as a result of Michigan’s equitable distribution laws.