Once the fact that you are going through a divorce sinks in, some of your first questions will be: Who gets the house and who gets the car? What about those wedding gifts, or the wedding ring? Is the property that I had before we got married marital property? Who is responsible for our credit card debt? Who is going to be responsible for paying off our loans? What about our dog? What about my grandmother’s antiques and the art collection?
All of these questions boil down to the same idea: Who gets what? Your attorney at Kizy Law will help you divide your property and debt through aggressive and skilled negotiations with your spouse and his/her attorney. The attorneys at Kizy Law understand the challenges and complications that property and debt division can present and can help you through every step of the process.
What Counts as Marital Property?
Any property accumulated during the marriage – including homes, cars, debts and assets – is considered marital property, or property that belongs to both parties. In a divorce, how the marital property is divided between the parties must be determined through the process of property division. Surprisingly, Michigan law does not explicitly define marital property and Michigan is the only state that lacks a clear legal definition. At best, it can be said that according to Michigan law, property is subject to division if it falls under one of four categories:
- Property whose acquisition, improvement or accumulation resulted from the contributions of the non-owning spouse (MCL 552.401)
- Property necessary for the suitable support and maintenance of the non-owning spouse (MCL 552.23)
- Property which shall have come to either party by reason of the marriage (MCL 552.19)
- Vested retirement benefits earned during the marriage and unvested retirement benefits earned during the marriage where just and equitable (MCL552.18)
Typical examples of marital property include:
- Bank, investment and brokerage accounts
- Pensions, retirement plans, and profit sharing plans
- Homes, including vacation homes and time shares
- Vehicles, Boats, Trailers, Jet Skis, ATV’s
- Household furniture and furnishings
- Stocks, bonds, stock options, mutual funds
- Business and partnership interests
Property often held as non-marital property includes:
- Gifts, including those acquired by legacy or inheritances
- Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage or in exchange for a gift
- Property acquired after a legal separation
- Any property specifically excluded by agreement between the parties
- All property acquired before the marriage was created
How is Marital Property Divided?
Once a couples’ property is categorized as being marital or non-marital, the next step is to divide the property amongst the parties. When doing so, the court will take into account such factors as:
- Age and health of the parties
- Source of the property and how it was acquired
- Length of the marriage
- Needs of the parties and children
- Earnings or earning capacity of the parties
Without an aggressive, skilled attorney that is knowledgeable in this area of the law, you may not get what is rightfully yours. Although the court’s decision is ultimately based on what is a “fair” division of the property, there are too many loopholes and exceptions that, without an experienced attorney from Kizy Law at your side, it can quickly start to look more and more unfair. The first step is to gather information and have all of your property professionally analyzed to ensure that the division of marital property in your case is in line with your interest and needs. Call us today and 248-662-5499 and schedule your free consultation.