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Are There Any Assets That Can’t Be Touched in a Divorce?

If you’re going through a divorce, one of your primary concerns may be property division. Many spouses fear losing everything they have in a divorce, and it’s a rational worry, but certain property is simply not available for distribution between spouses and is, therefore, left for you to keep.

How Michigan Law Handles Property Distribution in Divorce Cases

First, it’s helpful to understand how Michigan law deals with property division in divorces. States follow either equitable distribution or community property standards, and Michigan is an equitable distribution state.

In these states, marital property is divided between spouses in an “equitable” (fair) manner. On the other hand, in a community property state, marital property would be evenly split between spouses.

With that being said, it’s important to understand that equitable distribution does not mean the property is divided in a perfect 50/50 split. It all comes down to what the judge thinks is fair based on the details of your case.

Marital vs. Separate Property

Not all property is subject to distribution in divorce cases, which is why it’s vital to separate marital property from separate property.

Marital property is property spouses acquire during their marriage, not before or after. Even if only one spouse’s name appears on a title or deed, it would be considered marital property so long as it was acquired at some point throughout their marriage,

Separate property, on the other hand, is the property that each spouse had before they entered into marriage. Even after getting married, separate property remains separate, barring some exceptions.

What Counts as Separate Property?

At its core, separate property refers to what a spouse enters the marriage with, including homes and vehicles; however, under certain circumstances, spouses may acquire “separate property” even if they’re married.

Property and assets that are transferred to a spouse as a gift or via inheritance would be considered separate property despite being married. Additionally, lawsuit settlements aimed at compensating one spouse would also be separate property for that spouse.

There are undoubtedly circumstances in which it’s obvious what property is separate, but other times, it isn’t so cut and dry. When determining whether a piece of property is separate, there are several details to consider, including when and how the property was acquired.

Can Separate Property Ever Turn Into Marital Property?

Separate property generally cannot be touched in a divorce., but there may be times when separate property turns into marital property, making it available for distribution. Usually, for separate property to become marital property, there must be commingling.

For example, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to enter the marriage with property, and if the spouses choose to live there after getting married, it could potentially turn the house from separate property to marital property. That is particularly true if the non-owner spouse puts money toward updating and improving the home.

Seek Guidance From a Divorce Attorney

Property division can be a confusing and stressful process, but when a divorce attorney at Gucciardo Family Law handles your case, they can represent your best interests to help ensure your separate property remains untouched. Contact our firm today to request your consultation and discuss your case.

Too much information?

We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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