Divorces are difficult even when the spouses have reached a consensus about how they will divide marital property and how they will share child custody of minor children from the marriage. As you might expect, then, cases, where the parties cannot agree about the division of marital property, can become quite contentious. According to Michigan law, if the spouses cannot reach a Marital Settlement Agreement, the court will divide all marital property (which includes both assets and debts) based on the theory of equitable distribution. What this means is that the court will look to many different factors, such as the length of the marriage and the standard of living established during the marriage, to determine what an equitable or fair distribution of marital property looks like. When the court divides marital property according to the theory of equitable distribution, it typically considers the market value of the property.
Yet property distribution in a Michigan divorce can become incredibly complicated when one of the parties attaches sentimental or emotional value to a particular asset. We want to say more about this, and to encourage you to work with a divorce attorney to ensure that the financial elements of property distribution end up being fair to both parties in the end.
Risks of Sentimental Valuations
Whether you are planning to engage in negotiations with your spouse to reach a Marital Settlement Agreement in which all marital property is divided, or the court will need to divide the property because you cannot reach an agreement, there are serious risks of assessing a sentimental or emotional value for certain assets.
For example, one of the spouses might feel emotionally attached to the marital home because the parties raised their children there. As such, that spouse who wants to keep the house may be willing to give up other valuable property in order to retain the home. Similarly, one of the spouses might feel a sentimental attachment to a piece of antique furniture the couple purchased when they were first married, or that they received as a gift from a now-deceased family member.
There are serious risks in attaching a lot of sentimental value to property in the long run, especially if it could lead you to agree to an inequitable (financially speaking) distribution of marital property.
Get an Appraiser
Whether you want to negotiate a settlement or allow the court to decide how marital property will be divided, you should not give too much weight to the sentimental or emotional value of certain assets. You could ultimately agree to divide marital property in a manner that gives your spouse more highly valued assets (in terms of market value) than she or he is entitled to receive.
Instead, work with your divorce lawyer to get market value from a reputable appraiser.
Seek Advice From One of Our Michigan Divorce Lawyers
Nobody wants to plan on having to give up valuable property in a Michigan divorce, and that issue can become even more complicated and contentious when property holds a certain emotional or sentimental value. As your Michigan divorce lawyer, we want to ensure that you receive a divorce settlement that reflects an equitable distribution of marital property. Do not hesitate to get in touch with the divorce attorneys at our firm for assistance. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins to speak with an advocate about your case.