Factors That Determine Property Division in a Michigan Divorce
Any time a couple decides to separate, the main focus is probably going to be on the emotional trauma involved. However, practical concerns associated with living arrangements and material comforts are likely to take center stage before long. Eventually, a couple is going to have to deal with property division as part of their Michigan divorce.
How is property divided in Michigan? Which property is included in marital assets and which is not? How do courts determine the fair and equitable division of assets? Here are a few things you should know going into divorce proceedings.
Determining Marital Property
Before you start arguing about who gets what in the divorce, it’s important to understand that not all property is considered marital property. Generally speaking, marital property is comprised of any assets earned or obtained during the course of the marriage. This is important because it could exclude a variety of assets, including those one spouse brought into the marriage, or those bequeathed as part of an inheritance, just for example.
On the flipside, assets like retirement accounts that accrue value during the course of the marriage could be included in marital assets, as could extras like bonuses earned during the marriage (even if they aren’t paid out until after the divorce). Determining what counts as marital property can be tricky, which is why it’s always best to have a qualified lawyer on your side to ensure your interests are protected.
Fair and Equitable Division
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, but this doesn’t mean all assets and debts will be split down the middle. Instead, the division or property must be fair and equitable, which is not necessarily the same as equal.
Divorcing couples have the opportunity to devise an arrangement for the division of property on their own, but it must be approved by the court, and if it is not fair and equitable, it may not be approved. Couples that can’t decide on their own will have to rely on the judgment of the court when it comes to division of property.
When determining whether a property settlement agreement is fair and equitable, the court may consider several factors, including:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age, health, and life status of each party
- The financial and other needs of each party
- Each party’s circumstances
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage
- Earning potential/ability
- Past relations and conduct
- And the general principles of fairness and equity
Not all factors will be relevant in every case, while there may be circumstances in which other factors play a role, so it is up to the court’s discretion to determine how best to make property division fair and equitable. You should also know that division of marital debt is included in the division or property.
When it comes to property division in Michigan, courts strive to be fair and equitable. However, if you want the best possible outcome, you need to protect your interests. The best way to do this is with the help of a qualified attorney from The Gucciardo Law Firm. Contact us today at 248-723-5190.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.