What you should know about high asset divorces in Michigan
Aside from the often-overwhelming emotional duress that goes along with divorce, dividing assets can be an equally unpleasant chore. If a couple has a high level of assets, it throws another level of complexity into the mix, the consequences of which can last many years. And the more assets involved, the more complicated the divorce becomes.
Michigan courts will closely examine high asset divorce cases to ensure equitable settlement but before final decision, a couple can take specific steps to protect their finances. One common practice is a prenuptial agreement, listing property and alimony the other spouse will receive in a divorce. It sounds straightforward enough but it is critical to have an attorney closely review the agreement to avoid any potential issues.
It is also important to disclose all assets and liabilities. Business owners, for example, must have laser focus on all company activity. If a couple owns several vacation homes, they need to be fully aware of tax responsibilities when it comes time to divide assets.
Michigan is a no-fault, equitable distribution state in divorce cases, meaning a person cannot file for divorce based on anything other than a dissolved marriage. Judges will attempt to divide property equally but will also review a case’s individual elements.
In terms of high asset scenarios, it is recommended to pull together joint asset documentation prior to the divorce process. With substantial assets at hand, this can be a challenge but is invaluable in reaching an agreeable settlement. Tracking marital expenses and income is of course also sound advice and will be highly beneficial during proceedings.
Exceptions to equitable asset distribution include assets one spouse brought into the marriage or those that were inherited during the marriage. These types of assets can be designated as personal property and therefore not eligible for equal division.
Make smart decisions
In high asset divorces, some things should be avoided altogether. For example, updating or changing account beneficiary information or rapidly spending a great deal of money might yield negative consequences. Keep transactions at traditional levels to help make navigating the process a much smoother endeavor.
Do not attempt to sell an ancillary property prior to the divorce, or in fact make any significant ownership changes of assets. This only muddies contentious waters and provides fuel for squabbling between parties.
The easiest way to handle dividing a home’s assets is to sell it and evenly split the proceeds. If you want to keep the home, you can pay your spouse the value of their portion of the home but before moving forward with this approach, accurately determine what the house is worth.
More complicated high asset cases might be referred to mediation, where each party has the opportunity to comment on who will handle the case, or a mediator will be court-appointed. Only professional mediators should be utilized; outside parties are not allowed.
When the mediation process begins, each party must attend sessions with their attorneys in order to continue with divorce proceedings.
For more information on high asset divorces, contact Gucciardo Law Firm at (248) 723-5190 or gucciardofamilylaw.com.
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