If you are planning to file for divorce in Michigan in 2021, or if your spouse has already filed a petition for the dissolution of marriage, you are likely already thinking about how your marital property will be divided and whether certain assets will be subject to division according to Michigan law. As you may know, Michigan courts follow a rule of equitable distribution when it comes to dividing property in a Michigan divorce. Accordingly, the court will divide marital property between the spouses in a way that it considers to be fair—based on the specific facts of the marriage and the divorce case—to both spouses. Only marital property is divisible, while separate property is not subject to distribution in a divorce case unless there is an enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place that says otherwise.
Given that marital property will be divided in a way that the court deems equitable to the spouses, any questions you have about your inheritance will depend in large part upon whether or not your inheritance is classified as marital or separate property.
Most Inheritances are Classified as Separate Property
If you received a large inheritance from a parent, another relative, or a close friend, it is likely that the initial inheritance will not be classified as marital property. Rather, most inheritances are classified as separate property in Michigan. Generally speaking, separate property includes all assets and debts that are acquired prior to the date of the marriage, as well as property acquired after the date of the marriage if it was inherited, acquired as a gift, or acquired with separate assets. Accordingly, most inheritances will be classified as separate property in a divorce case—even if you inherited the money or the other property during the marriage—and will not be subject to division.
However, there are some exceptions that you should know about and that you should discuss with your Michigan divorce attorney.
When Can an Inheritance be Divided in a Divorce?
There are at least a couple of scenarios in which your inheritance may be classified as marital property (or classified in part as marital property). First, an inheritance will only be classified as separate property if it was inherited by one of the spouses alone. If both spouses inherit the property, even if it belonged to one of the spouse’s direct relatives, the inheritance will be classified as marital property. For example, if Spouse A’s mother had a will that left certain property to Spouse A and her husband, then the inheritance will likely be classified as marital property and will be subject to division.
Another situation in which an inheritance can be classified as marital property in part is when the inheritance becomes commingled with marital property. For example, if Spouse A inherits money alone but uses it to add an addition to the home she shares with her spouse, that portion of the inheritance may become marital property and may be divisible.
Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney
Do you have questions about property division in your divorce? A Michigan divorce attorney can help. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today.