How Can You Keep the House in a Michigan Divorce?
Divorce is never easy. And of the multiple concerns that arise in any divorce, who retains the marital home is usually at the top of the list.
In determining which spouse receives the home, it’s important to understand some key points about Michigan law regarding divorce.
Equitable Distribution — Not Community Property
While you may be familiar with the term “community property,” Michigan is actually an “equitable distribution” state. Equitable distribution provides for a property division based on what the court deems as fair under the circumstances. Some states use community property, where the property is divided among the spouses in as close to a 50-50 split as possible.
Is It Marital Property or Separate Property?
The first task of the court is to determine whether the property in question is considered marital or separate. Marital property is defined as assets acquired or earned during the marriage. Financial products, including 401k’s and pensions, as well as homes and cars can be considered marital property.
In the case of separate property, this is anything that was owned, received, inherited, or earned before the couple married. However, an inheritance received during the marriage can also be considered separate property.
Marital property can be divided, whereas separate property can’t.
Valuation Before Distribution
The value of the property has to be established before it can be distributed.
And more importantly, a number of factors regarding the marriage have to be considered. The duration of the marriage is just one factor. Other considerations include each spouse’s age, needs, health, past income, potential income, and their conduct towards each other. The judge will then make a determination that is as fair and equitable as possible.
It’s important to note that Michigan is a pure no-fault divorce state: No wrongdoing on the part of the other spouse can be alleged as grounds for divorce. The cause of all divorces in Michigan is deemed to be irreconcilable differences.
Who Stays and Who Goes?
While the easiest way to divide the marital home is to agree to sell and divide the proceeds, such a decision is not always reached. If only one spouse wants to sell the home and split the proceeds from the sale, he or she has to request the judge to make that ruling, but the request may not be granted.
If the couple have minor children, and the custodial parent wishes to keep the home, he or she can buy out the interest of the other spouse, depending on whether there are enough joint assets. They can also refinance the home and use that money to buy out the other spouse.
Additionally, a home can remain in both spouses’ names — with the custodial parent remaining in the home — until an agreed-upon time, such as when the last child leaves the home for college. During that time, the spouse in the home will assume the financial responsibilities for the home. When the deadline arrives, the home will then be sold and the money split between the spouses.
It is crucial that you get the best information you can during this time. At Gucciardo Family Law, we can help guide you through this difficult process. For a free consultation, contact us at (248) 723-5190.
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