Many engaged couples consider registering for wedding gifts as a rite of passage. Whether they go to stores in person or carry out the task online, they’re working together to create a combined new life. When that same couple decides to get a divorce, they must work backward and separate everything they joined together over the length of their union, far beyond dishes and towels. In a Michigan divorce, this is known as marital property division.
Understanding Marital Property
Items that fall under marital property are pretty cut and dried.
- Marital property is property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage that is owned by both of you.
- Marital property does or does not need to have a title or deed accompanying it.
- If there is a title or deed, either spouse’s name can be on the paper.
- Anything from the family home to cars, furniture to pets, qualify as marital property.
Understanding Separate Property
Separate property is not marital property, and it’s not always as simple as walking through the marital home and marking things “mine” and “yours.”
- The person who originally owned the property, like an inheritance, keeps their separate property.
- If the other spouse contributed to the improvement or growth of the separate property, however, they may be entitled to part of the property’s value.
- Separate property can become marital property if used regularly for marital purposes or held in a joint bank account.
Understanding Equitable Distribution
Michigan is an equitable distribution state.
- Equitable distribution is a process by which a divorcing couple is encouraged to come to their own property settlement terms regarding marital property.
- If they can’t make it happen together or through mediation or arbitration, the matter will have to go to court for a judge to decide.
- “Equitable” does not promise that the division of marital property will be done equally, but it will be done fairly.
- Many factors influence equitable distribution if a judge is the one making the determination, including how long a couple was married, what they contributed to the marital property, individual needs and circumstances, earning potential, age and health of the parties, and each spouse’s conduct.
Mastering Marital Property Division
While marital property division may seem simple on the surface – you take this and I take that – the matter can become very complicated. Things are just things but, throughout a marriage, the things a couple has shared have been infused with meaning – and if you are determined to take that meaning with you out of your divorce, you’ll want to fight hard for a particular item or piece of property, whether it’s the Christmas tree ornaments or family pet. The only problem is, your ex may feel the same way.
Marital property fights are common in divorce negotiations, which makes it essential to have an experienced Michigan divorce lawyer working on your behalf. Once the marital property division decisions have been made, there is still plenty of paperwork to complete and deadlines to meet to ensure that property transfers and divisions are made in a timely manner.
Get support from an experienced Michigan divorce attorney. Contact the family law attorneys at Femminineo Attorneys in Macomb, MI, to schedule a meeting.