Dividing Marital Property
Michigan is what is commonly referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. This means that your marital property is not necessarily distributed on a 50-50 basis, but is instead distributed based on the principle of fairness. Michigan acknowledges that not every spouse will leave a marriage with the same burdens, needs or financial potential. In order to create as equal a situation as possible, property distribution may factor in those issues.
Is Equitable Always Fair?
The court starts with the presumption that the parties should each receive a "roughly congruent" share of the marital property.
Marital property is undefined by statute, but case law defines it as any property (including debt) acquired during the marriage, from any source, but excludes property acquired before the marriage and any increased in its value so long as the increase was passive. However, special rules apply to gifts (whether they were for the marriage or for the individual), inheritances and commingled property, and you should consult with a lawyer to determine what your particular county and/or judge considers marital and separate property.
There is no "bright-line" rule to divide property; instead, the court considers several factors, including the length of the marriage, the parties' needs, age of the spouses, the value of the property, and so forth. The court also considers the divisibility of assets, like businesses.
Fault is, in general, relevant if the fault that caused the breakdown of the marriage is related to marital property (e.g., your spouse had a gambling habit and, as a result, acquired substantial debt by refinancing your marital home). The court may also invade each party's separate property if the other party contributed to the increase in value of that property or if the other party "needs" a share of the property, using the same multifactored analysis.
In the final divorce judgment, the court is required to divide the parties' marital property, stating specifically how to divide pensions, annuities and other retirement accounts that were acquired or accrued value during the marriage.
Prioritize Your Asset Protection With Our Property Division Attorney
In Michigan, there are only a few attorneys who focus exclusively on family law. Pinnacle Family Law is focused on getting you the aid you need to protect yourself and your financial future. If you are going through divorce and are seeking assistance dividing property, call 248-305-6484 or email us. We will evaluate your case for free.