When you are planning to file for divorce in Michigan, it is essential to understand how property division works in the state. Generally speaking, states in the U.S. are either “equitable distribution” states or “community property” states, and Michigan is an equitable distribution state. It is critical to learn more about what that means for the division of marital property in the state, and what you should expect when it comes to the distribution of marital assets and debts.
Michigan is an Equitable Distribution State
Under Michigan law, all marital property is subject to division in a divorce based on the theory of equitable distribution. The idea is that all property owned together by the spouses will be divided in a way that the court determines to be equitable, or fair, to both spouses. Accordingly, before a court divides marital property, it will take an accounting of all property that both spouses own, whether individually or collectively, and will determine whether it should be classified as separate (non-marital) or marital property.
Assets and Debts are Both Considered Property in Michigan
When the court divides marital property, it will divide both assets and debts from the marriage. To be clear, both assets and debts can be considered marital property.
Date of Purchase Often Determines Whether Property is Classified as Separate or Marital
In general, assets acquired prior to the date of marriage may be classified as separate property, while most assets acquired after the date of marriage will be considered marital property. Of course, there are exceptions that you should discuss with your Michigan divorce lawyer.
For example, any property that is expressly excluded from marital property through a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement most likely will not be subject to distribution in a divorce. Similarly, property that only one of the spouses obtained during the marriage through an inheritance or as a gift (a gift that did not come from the other spouse and that was not purchased with marital assets) will not be subject to distribution in a divorce.
Some Property is More Complicated to Value Than Other Property
Particularly in high asset divorces or divorces involving business assets, some type of property will be more difficult to value than other types of property. It may be necessary to work with an appraiser or to go through additional steps in order to obtain an accurate valuation of a specific asset or assets.
Sometimes Property can be Complicated to Classify
Not all property is readily classified as either marital property or separate property. Often, when marital and separate property is mixed in some capacity—known as commingling property—it can be difficult for the court to trace out which amount of the property should be classified as separate and which should be classified as marital.
Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney
If you have questions or concerns about property division in Michigan, you should get in touch with a Michigan divorce lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options for your case. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today for more information.