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What is the difference between marital and non-marital property?

As an equitable distribution state, Michigan divides marital property based on what is fair. A judge typically allocates property based on factors such as a spouse’s earning capacity and contributions toward the couple’s assets. According to state law, non-marital property is not subject to division.

It may seem at first pass that you could define non-marital property as anything obtained outside the marriage. While that is true, there are some exceptions. For example, if one spouse receives an inheritance during the marriage, that property will not be up for division. What’s more, if a spouse owns an asset prior to the marriage that increases in value, that property is considered separate.

Where it can be tricky is when a piece of non-marital property gets commingled with marital assets. For example, if a spouse takes the earnings from a rental home acquired before a marriage and deposits them into a joint bank account, the other spouse may be awarded part of those funds.

As Forbes magazine points out, only marital property will be divided. Marital assets include just about anything that was acquired during the course of a marriage, such as the following: 

  • A home, car or bank account
  • Investments or insurance policies
  • Cemetery plots
  • Benefits from current and past employers
  • Home furnishings and appliances
  • Memberships at golf courses or private clubs

If you give your spouse a gift during the time you are married, that item may be subject to division. A gift given prior to the wedding day, such as an engagement ring, will not be divided. Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with an attorney.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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