Whether you have been together for years or decades, separating financial assets and personal property during divorce can be a major challenge, both logistically and emotionally.
Understanding how Michigan law treats property division may help you better prepare for what life may look like post-divorce, whether you and your spouse choose to litigate or negotiate your separation outside of court.
1. What is the difference between marital and separate property?
As in many other states, Michigan recognizes two types of spousal property: marital property and separate property. Generally speaking, assets that either spouse acquires during marriage becomes shared marital property. During divorce, marital property may be subject to equitable division by the courts.
On the other hand, assets that either spouse owned before marriage or through a personal gift or inheritance remain the sole property of that spouse unless intermingled with shared assets during marriage.
2. Does the law split property evenly between spouses?
Equitable property division by the court does not necessarily mean equal division of assets between spouses. Rather, the court tried to determine how to distribute assets in a way that is fair to both parties and provides adequate support for shared children.
In addition to the length of the marriage and the needs of minor children, the court may consider a variety of factors, including spousal contributions to acquiring or maintaining assets and each spouse’s educational background and earning capacity.
3. What happens when a marital estate is complex?
From high-value assets like recreational vehicles, art collections or real estate to a family-owned business, complex estates often require a detailed and accurate valuation of assets to ensure a fair division. Because litigated divorce often involves a strict timeline and specific legal constraints, many spouses choose to negotiate outside of court through mediation.