Division of Assets: Who Gets the House in a Divorce?
In the state of Michigan, you must meet certain requirements before you’re able to get a divorce. One example is that one or both parties must live in the state for at least 180 days before they’re allowed to file for divorce.
Unlike some states, however, neither party is required to show cause or wrongdoing to file for a divorce. All divorces are automatically classified as stemming from irreconcilable differences, and the court strives to split everything owned in the marriage relatively equally.
However, life circumstances and the state of the divorce can complicate things.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Michigan
An uncontested divorce happens where both parties come to a mutual agreement. Michigan divorces that are uncontested are relatively quick and painless. Property is divided as close to 50/50 as the court deems to be fair or in accordance with agreements made by the divorcing couple.
When the divorce is contested, however, property division may become more complicated. The question of who gets to keep the house after the divorce is one of the primary issues in a contested divorce.
While fault or wrongdoing does not normally come under consideration in a Michigan divorce, it can have a small impact in a contested divorce. Typically it causes no more than a 10% difference in asset division, however.
Only assets from the marital estate are subject to division during a divorce. Marital assets include items that were acquired during the marriage, along with income that was earned during that time. Thus if the house was purchased during the marriage, it is subject to division.
Other assets that are commonly part of the marital estate include:
- Bonuses earned
- Asset sales
- Retirement property
- Stocks and bonds
- Retirement accounts
One exception is inheritance items and funds. Those are considered to be personal assets even if they were acquired during the marriage.
Personal assets are things that were owned or earned before the couple got married. If the house was owned by the husband or wife before marriage, that fact may influence who gets to keep it after the divorce.
Generally, if both names are on the deed, it is subject to division. Personal assets include:
- Real estate
- Retirement property
As long as these assets were owned before the couple married, they remain the sole property of that spouse.
In some cases, the court may consider other factors when determining who gets to keep the house. When minor children are present, for example, the court may decide it’s in their best interests to live in the family home.
If one spouse has extensive health problems or an inability to earn income, it may also influence the court’s decision.
When possible, the best solution is to compromise. If one spouse really wants to keep the home, they can offer to buy out the other spouse’s half. Alternatively, the couple can choose to live in the home together and make upgrades that help to separate it into two distinct spaces.
Contact Gucciardo Family Law and let us help you navigate this and other common divorce issues.
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