If you are going through a divorce in Michigan, it is crucial to understand how property will be divided between you and your spouse. Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that property division will be based on a determination of what is fair under the circumstances of each particular situation. For a Michigan property division dispute, it is crucial to understand the difference between marital property and separate property.
Understanding Michigan’s Property Division Laws
Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to marital property, which means that various facts will be taken into account when it comes to distributing property when a case, such as a Southfield divorce is ongoing. By properly understanding the difference between “marital” and “separate” property, individuals and their attorneys can begin planning for the proper division of assets.
Marital property refers to any assets or debts that were acquired during the course of the marriage. Some of the most common marital assets include:
- A shared home
- Any secondary homes or property
- Pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s
- Brokerage accounts and other investments
- Business real estate
- Investment real estate
- Professional practices
- Vehicles, motorcycles, boats, and RVs
- …and more
Any assets earned by either spouse during the course of the marriage, even if these assets were not received until after a divorce is complete, will be considered marital property. For example, if one spouse earns a bonus or commission while they are married, the bonus or commission becomes marital property (even if the payment does not come through until after the divorce finalizes). What we will usually find is that the longer a couple has been married, the more intertwined their assets will become.
In addition to these assets, any debts acquired during the course of the marriage will also need to be divided as fairly as possible. This includes student loans, credit card debt, mortgages, car loans, etc.
Separate property includes any assets obtained by either party before the marriage or any property received through an inheritance or a gift at any time before or during the course of the marriage. However, what many people think is a separate property often ends up becoming marital property. This occurs because it can be challenging to keep separate property truly separate during the course of a marriage. As soon as any person uses the separate property for any asset acquisition during the course of the marriage, the separate property value will suddenly become marital property. For example, if one spouse gains an inheritance after five years of marriage and then uses that inheritance to buy a home for both parties to live in, that inheritance value now becomes marital property.
Working With a Property Division Attorney in Michigan
If you are going through a divorce or are considering separating from your spouse, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. One of the most contentious aspects of a divorce is the division of the property. You need to have an attorney with extensive experience handling these claims who can also work with trusted financial and economic experts to help properly assess the marital and separate property. A skilled Southfield separation of assets attorney can get involved in your case early and work by your side until your divorce case concludes.