Division of Marital Property in Michigan

When a married couple gets a divorce in Michigan, state law requires the division of marital property. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement, the court decides the property division under the principle of equitable distribution. At the Law Offices of Kevin R. Lynch, we provide essential legal guidance, support, and representation in all aspects of Michigan divorce, including the division of marital property. With an office located in Sterling Heights, we serve clients throughout Macomb County, Wayne County, and the surrounding areas.

Our Experience and Approach

Michigan family law attorney Kevin R. Lynch has over 20 years of experience helping clients address legal concerns relating to divorce, including division of marital property. If a client and their spouse agree on the property division, Kevin makes certain the client fully understands all their property rights and the terms and implications of the agreement before signing it. He also assists in negotiating the terms of a property settlement with the other spouse’s lawyer. If the spouses utilize mediation to resolve property division issues, Kevin advises the client throughout the mediation process and reviews any mediation agreements before signing.

Kevin’s proven success in family law matters and the division of marital property arises from his dedication to listening carefully to a client’s concerns, providing straightforward advice, taking a reasonable approach to resolving disputes, and working hard to find the best solution for the client’s short-term and long-term goals. If judicial intervention becomes necessary, Kevin has the skills and knowledge to advocate vigorously for the client in court.

Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in Michigan

If divorcing spouses cannot agree on the division of marital property, Michigan law provides that the court determines the property division on the basis of equitable distribution. The rule requires that the property division be fair to both parties, but it does not necessarily mean the property is equally divided. However, if the court does not divide marital property equally, the judge must explain the reasons for the unequal distribution on the record.

Marital Property and Separate Property

In dividing property as part of a divorce proceeding, two different types of property must be considered. Marital property is property belonging to both spouses and is subject to equitable distribution. Separate property of one of the spouses is generally not subject to equitable distribution, because it is viewed as belonging solely to the spouse who owns it. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between marital property and separate property when dividing property during a divorce.

Marital property typically includes all property of all types acquired by the spouses during the marriage. Real estate (including the family home), personal property, financial accounts, and other assets acquired or increasing in value during the marriage generally qualify as marital property subject to division. Separate property includes assets owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, as well as certain property acquired by one spouse during the marriage, such as a gift or inheritance.

The difference between marital and separate property is not always clear. Separate property can become marital property if it is mixed with marital property, such as depositing an inheritance or gift into a joint bank account. In some situations, a spouse may also be entitled to an increase in value of the other spouse’s separate property if the spouse contributed to the value increase. Issues about marital and separate property often arise and must be resolved during the division of marital property.

Division of Debts

Along with the division of assets and property in a divorce, the debts of a married couple are also subject to division in a divorce. Like assets, financial obligations of a married couple may be marital debts or separate debts. Marital debts are subject to the same equitable distribution principles that apply to property and assets.

Considerations in Court Division of Marital Property

If the court determines property division, the judge takes into account a wide range of factors in making the decision, including:

  • Source of the asset
  • Each spouse’s contribution toward acquisition or value
  • Length of marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Spouse’s and children’s needs
  • Earning power of the respective spouses
  • Cause of divorce
  • Fairness to each spouse

The court may take into account any other factor that is relevant to the decision. While a spouse’s fault in causing the divorce may be considered by the judge, it cannot be the only reason for awarding property to the other spouse. Punishment for fault also cannot be used as justification for a specific distribution. If the court makes a division other than equal, the judge must explain the basis for the unequal distribution as part of the record of the proceeding.

Division of Marital Property in a Divorce

In most cases, divorcing spouses reach an agreement on the division of marital property, either on their own or with help from lawyers or a mediator. Reaching an agreement without intervention by the divorce court is a desirable solution, because it usually saves time and expenses and takes much less of an emotional toll than a court proceeding.

Property division may involve complicated issues relating to marital and separate property and debt, as well as the valuation of specific marital assets. Certain assets, like retirement accounts, which are subject to division to the extent they increased during the marriage, can pose especially complex issues in a divorce. In any case where a married couple owns significant assets, talking with an experienced divorce attorney before making any decisions is strongly advised.

If you are getting a divorce, a family law attorney with experience in property division assists you in many different ways. Even if you and your spouse initially agree on division, your attorney should review any written agreement before you sign it. If you and your spouse disagree, your attorney facilitates negotiations with your spouse’s lawyer to try to reach agreement on as many points as possible. In the event you and your spouse decide to use mediation to resolve outstanding property issues, your attorney advises you throughout the mediation and reviews any agreement reached during the process before you sign it.

Protecting your property rights during a divorce is extremely important. The best way to accomplish that goal is to talk with a lawyer about the division of marital property before you decide how to proceed. With more than two decades of experience in all aspects of divorce — including the resolution of complex issues of property division — Michigan family law attorney Kevin R. Lynch has the knowledge and skills to provide the legal counsel, guidance, and support you need and deserve. Your first consultation is always free of charge, so there is no reason to hesitate to talk with Kevin about your divorce and property division.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Michigan Divorce Attorney

Located in Sterling Heights, the Law Offices of Kevin R. Lynch P.L.C. provides comprehensive and trustworthy legal services for divorce and other family law matters in Macomb County, Wayne County, and the surrounding area. Your initial consultation is free of charge. Talk with us by calling 586-336-1088 or using our online contact form.