Property Division Oakland County Michigan
The division of marital assets and debts is one of the most emotionally charged and complicated areas of divorce. Financial aspects of divorce can be complex, especially in regard to property division of marital assets and debts. It may seem that more questions than answers are apparent, such as:
- Who stays in the family home?
- Who keeps the vacation home?
- Who pays the credit card bills?
- How will the vehicles be divided?
- How will the bank accounts and retirement accounts be divided?
When dividing property, the first thing the courts need to determine is the character of the property, meaning whether property is “marital” or “separate.” Generally, property accumulated during the marriage is generally considered marital property. This includes homes, cars, pension plans and also debt, as well as any assets that a spouse earned during the marriage even if is not received until after the divorce is final, such as commission or a bonus. Separate property includes property or assets earned or obtained before the marriage. In addition, inheritances are usually considered to be the separate property of the spouse who received the inheritance, regardless of when it was received – unless the inheritance was comingled. Accordingly, an asset owned prior to the marriage may be considered separate property depending upon how it was treated during the marriage –“comingled.” Even if an asset is determined to be separate property belonging to one party, there may be appreciation of that asset that occurred during the marriage and if so, that appreciation can be considered a marital asset.
Because Michigan is not a community property state, marital property is divided equitably, but not necessarily evenly. If parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide. As with spousal support, there are guidelines that the court will usually consider in dividing marital property. The most frequently cited are:
- The length of the marriage
- The needs of the parties
- The needs of the children
- The earning power of the parties
- The source of the property
- Where the contributions toward property acquisitions came from
- The cause of the divorce, including fault in the breakdown of the marriage.
This list is not exhaustive, and the court may consider any other factors it finds relevant.
To learn more about property division, please contact me.