Property Division in a Michigan Divorce
During the course of a marriage, it’s natural to accumulate both assets and debts. You and your spouse may buy property, comingle income, and purchase all manner of valuable assets (automobiles, art, jewelry, and more). You may invest joint income in stocks, bonds, and securities. In addition, you may take on joint debt with credit cards, business expenses, or major purchases.
When you file for divorce, part of the separation process is division of assets, in which you and your spouse divide all marital assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner. What counts as marital assets and how is everything divided in a Michigan divorce?
Separate vs. Marital Property
Before you start dividing things up, you need to understand that there are two different types of property for the purposes of division of assets: separate and marital property. Separate property consists of any property either spouse owned prior to marriage. This could include money, real estate, and other items of value such as heirloom furniture or jewelry, just for example, as well as trust funds or an inheritance.
In the event of divorce, these items normally revert to the spouse that was the original owner, but there are exceptions, mainly if separate property is comingled during the course of a marriage. If, for example, one spouse moves inheritance money from a personal account into a joint account and both spouses have access to the funds and use it for joint expenses, it becomes marital property. Marital property includes any assets acquired or debts incurred during the course of the marriage.
How is Marital Property Divided?
Under Michigan Law, marital property is subject to fair and equitable division between spouses. What does this mean? There are several factors involved in deciding whether property is separate or marital and how it will be divided, such as:
– source of property
– each party’s contribution toward acquiring property
– years of marriage
– need (of spouses and children)
– cause of divorce
– and general equity, among other potential factors
You may be surprised to see “cause of divorce” on the list of factors influencing the division of property because Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. However, just because no fault is assigned during divorce proceedings, that doesn’t mean the court can’t take fault into account when determining the fair and equitable division of assets. That said, fault is unlikely to result in more than a 10% difference in favor of the wronged party.
What is Fair and Equitable?
You need to understand that “fair and equitable” doesn’t necessarily mean even. Circumstances can play a vital role in the final division of assets, such as if one spouse has greater need. In such cases, more than half of marital assets could be awarded to the needed party, in addition to, or in lieu of, spousal support payments. As noted, fault in the divorce could also play a role, and in cases where one spouse is found to be hiding or failing to disclose assets, a significant portion (or all) of hidden assets could be granted to the other spouse.
The best way to receive a fair and equitable divorce settlement is with the help of a qualified attorney. Contact the experts at The Gucciardo Law Firm at 248-723-5190 today to learn more.
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