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How Is Real Estate Property Divided in a Michigan Divorce?

 Posted on December 26, 2019 in Divorce

How Is Real Estate Property Divided in a Michigan Divorce?No one really enters into a marriage thinking they are going to get divorced. Sadly, many couples do end their legal unions for various reasons. In some cases, an extramarital affair or an addiction problem may have caused the relationship to sour. Once a couple decides to part ways, they will have to make many decisions, including how to divide their assets and property. The division of real estate properties can be one of the most contested aspects of a divorce. Spouses often argue over who gets to stay in the marital home or who can keep the lake house. Under Michigan law, a judge is required to distribute marital property fairly. This typically means that each spouse receives approximately half of everything. However, the property may be divided unequally if one party is considered to be more responsible for the marriage ending or if one party proves a significant need for more assets. 

Separate Versus Marital Property

If either spouse owns his or her own property prior to the marriage, it is classified as separate property. In addition, gifts or any type of inheritance received during the marriage are referred to as separate property. If a spouse owns separate property such as another home, jewelry, or artwork and it appreciates in value on its own, the increase in value is still separate.

The majority of assets or property that spouses accumulated throughout their marriage is marital property. Regardless of whose name is on a title or deed, it is still marital property unless it was given to or inherited by one spouse. Marital property means that it is owned by both spouses. Typical examples include houses, vehicles, furniture, artwork, retirement plans, pensions, bank accounts, CDs, or any other assets or investments earned or acquired during the marriage. 

Determining Who Gets What

In Michigan, like many states, the division of marital property is done through either negotiations or litigation. A couple can come to their own agreement that is fair to both of them. In order for it to be legally binding, it must be put in writing. It is typically called the “settlement” and will be included in the final divorce decree or judgment. Even if spouses come to a mutual arrangement, it is still important to hire an experienced divorce attorney who can help draft an enforceable agreement.

When spouses cannot come to an agreement on how to divide marital property, they will have to go to court, where a judge will make decisions for them. Michigan courts will consider the following factors when deciding how to divide marital assets, including the marital home:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marital estate
  • Each spouse’s age and mental and physical health 
  • Standard of living of the spouses
  • Each spouse’s basic and financial needs, plus any related circumstances
  • Earning capacity of the spouses (based on education, job skills, work history, and employment opportunities)
  • The spouses’ previous relations and conduct
  • General principles of equity (fairness)

Contact an Oakland County Divorce Lawyer

The division of marital property can be a complicated and time-consuming process. In many cases, a couple cannot agree on how to divide assets or real estate properties, especially if each spouse wants the same thing. The qualified Farmington Hills property division attorneys at Elkouri Heath, PLC, understand divorce law and how to protect your rights when negotiating a settlement. We will do everything in our power to make sure you receive what you need and deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at 248-344-9700.



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