How is Your Property Divided in a Michigan Divorce Case?

Divorce can already be a difficult experience, but dividing property and debts is a particularly complicated part of the process. Deciding who gets what and who needs to pay which debts are onerous negotiations during even the most amicable divorces.

Here, an experienced family attorney answers a few common questions about property and debt division in Michigan.

How is property divided in a Michigan divorce?

Under Michigan law, a judge will divide your property equitably between each spouse. This doesn’t mean it will necessarily be an equal division, but the assets will be fairly divided based on the court’s assessment of your circumstances.

Your property may be divided unequally if one partner is more responsible for the marriage dissolution or needs more property/assets.

Michigan family law classifies property into two categories: marital property and separate property.

What is Marital Property?

In Michigan, any property or debt acquired during the marriage is considered marital property. Regardless of the name on the title or deed, both parties own it, and any marital property can be divided between the spouses.

For example, if a house was purchased during the marriage, it is marital property and will be divided between the spouses. It can be divided by selling the house and splitting the revenue. It can also be divided by one spouse keeping the house, and the other is awarded other assets to maintain an equitable division.

What is Separate Property?

In most cases, any asset purchased or acquired before the marriage is considered separate property and not divided in the divorce. Additionally, gifts and inheritance given to one spouse are classified as individual property under Michigan law. Therefore, your divorce won’t be divided regardless of when you received it.

How is debt divided?

Typically, debts acquired by a spouse before the marriage are considered separate debts, and any debts acquired during the marriage are marital debts. Marital debts are divided equitably based on each spouse’s ability to pay, why it was incurred, and the nature and amount of the debt.

Certain debts will be considered separate even if incurred during the marriage. These include gambling debts, specific student loans, and funds spent on extramarital affairs.

How do the courts split your assets?

If you can’t decide how to divide your assets, a judge will decide on property and debt distribution. They will consider several factors and review your specific circumstances:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate/property
  • Length of marriage
  • If one partner is more at fault for the marriage dissolution
  • Each spouse’s financial needs and other necessities
  • Earning abilities of each spouse (how much income they could earn based on education, work history, etc.)
  • Spousal ages and health status

Talk to the experienced family law attorneys at JAD Law

When you’re getting a divorce, an experienced family attorney can help you negotiate the best possible agreement for your family. JAD Law is here to help.  Contact JAD Law today to schedule an appointment.

JAD Law serves several counties across Metro Detroit, Michigan, including Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties.