Marital Property vs. Separate Property in Michigan

When a married couple gets divorced in Michigan state law requires that their marital property be divided equitably and generally each spouse walk away with their own separate property. So the question becomes; what is marital property and what is separate property?

In a nutshell, marital property constitutes assets (whether real property or personal property) that were acquired during the couple's marriage. For example, income that the wife earned working as a bookkeeper during the marriage, the house that the couple bought directly after their wedding, or the husband's pension plan that was earned during the marriage are all examples or what is typically considered marital property under Michigan law.

On the other hand, assets acquired before the marriage, gifts received during the marriage, or an inheritance obtained while married are often considered be as the separate property of the spouse that acquired, received, or obtained them. However it is important to note that, in the eyes of the law, separate property can sometimes be invaded or become marital property during the course of a marriage (for example if the separate property was commingled with marital property or if the separate property was used for the benefit of the family).

How is Marital Property Distributed in Michigan?

As noted above, marital property is distributed equitably between the spouses when a couple gets divorced in Michigan. However it is critical to note that in this context the word "equitably" means fairly, but not necessarily equally. In other words, an equitable division of a couple's marital assets might mean a 50/50 split, but it may also mean an unequal division if the judge responsible for distributing the couple's property believes an unequal division to be fair. In order to determine what a fair distribution would look like in a particular case the court considers a variety of different factors. The Institute of Continuing Legal Education's website notes that some factors commonly considered by family law courts in Michigan include:

  • The length of the couple's marriage,

  • The needs of each spouse,

  • The needs of the couple's children,

  • The earning power of each spouse,

  • The source of the property at issue,

  • Where the funds used to acquire the property at issue came from, and

  • The reason for the couple's divorce.

Contact Us Today for Help

Dividing property is often one of the most hotly debated issues in divorce cases. Know your legal rights. Claim what is lawfully yours. Contact a local divorce attorney today. Here at the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins we are committed to helping clients throughout Michigan navigate the murky waters of divorce and emerge with a settlement agreement that suits their needs. To find out what our firm can do for you contact our Bloomfield Hills office today by filling out our online contact form or by giving us a call at (248) 646-7980.