Three Considerations When Dividing a Marital Home in a Divorce

If you own a home with your spouse and are thinking about divorce in Michigan, it is important to learn more about how your property-including your home and other real estate-will be divided. You should also learn more about how real property is likely to get classified in a divorce, and how property distribution can change when the real property has characteristics of both marital and non-marital (or separate) property. A dedicated divorce lawyer with experience handling complex property division matters under Michigan law can help with your case. In the meantime, the following are three considerations you should keep in mind when dividing a marital home in a divorce.

Know How Your Home Will be Classified

Will your home be classified as marital property, separate property, or a combination of the two? The classification of your home could change the way in which you approach negotiating a property settlement or the process of property distribution.

First, the classification of your home could affect the need to consider in the divorce process at all. On the one hand, if your home is separate property and is not subject to distribution, you may not even need to consider how the value of the property will play into the process of equitable distribution. On the other hand, if your home is classified entirely as marital property, you will likely need to consider how the home will be valued for purposes of distribution, and what you may need to give up in order to keep your house. Finally, if your home likely has elements of both marital and non-marital property, you should know that you will likely face additional complications during property division as the court seeks to determine what percentage of the house's value is marital property and what percentage is separate property.

Consider Complicated Situations Involving Commingled Property

How would a marital home have elements of both separate and marital property, and why would this make valuation more complicated? For example, if one spouse used a significant amount of savings earned before the marriage as a down payment on the house, the house would have elements of both marital and non-marital property. In more complicated situations, one spouse's investment of separate property in the house-such as renovations-may have resulted in the home's value improving significantly.

As such, when real property has elements of both marital and non-marital property, only part of the equity in the home or the profit made upon the sale of the home will actually be subject to division.

Recognize That You May Need to Give Up Other Property if You Want to Keep the House

Often, a marital home is the most valuable property that parties in a divorce own. Accordingly, if one of the spouses wants to keep the house, she or he may need to be willing to give up other property in order to stay in the marital home. For example, if a long-term marriage has marital property worth a total of $500,000, and the marital home accounts for $300,000 of that total, the spouse who wants to stay in the home may need to be willing to give up other marital property such as retirement benefits.

Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney

Do you have questions about dividing marital property and how property distribution will affect whether you can keep your home? An experienced Michigan divorce attorney can help. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today.