Aside from the emotional aspect, dividing property can be one of the more challenging aspects of a divorce. It may be a source of comfort to know that, under Michigan law, marital property is required to be divided fairly, which can mean splitting it in half or through another measure. Notably, there are certain legalities when it comes to dividing property between the spouses.
What is considered property?
Property in this case can be split into marital property – anything that was gained during the marriage, and separate property – anything that was gained prior to the marriage or through an inheritance, even if this was gained during the marriage.
What can be divided?
Marital property belongs to both spouses and therefore must be divided fairly. The separate property belongs to the original owner. However, in certain circumstances, the separate property may be divided as well. For example, if there were improvements made to the separate property, such as a house, or if the separate property was used during the marriage, then it is considered to be marital property.
Additionally, marital debt is treated similarly to marital property and has its own exceptions.
Who decides what is fair?
The parties can negotiate on their own and a judge will approve the division if it is deemed fair. Using to a mediator to make this determination is also an option.
The parties can also seek the assistance of an attorney to represent them in the negotiation process, prior to going before a judge. However, if the parties cannot agree on the division of the property, a judge may make this decision for them.
Given the number of hours the parties will spend negotiating, it may be worth settling out of court. A trial will take longer and increase the expenses dedicated to dividing the property. Settling out of court may also give the parties more control over what they will receive in the end. However, if an agreement can’t be reached, a strong case will need to be presented to the judge.
Divorce is sometimes an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. An experienced family law attorney can help with clarifying each spouse’s rights and provide options for how to resolve dividing the property fairly.